As you might expect, olives grown in cooler areas where there is more moisture (rainfall and dew) exhibit leaner, more restrained characteristics.  This doesn’t however mean that great oil can now be made in Iceland – you need a minimum amount of sunshine to make your Extra Virgin Olive Oil taste remarkable, similarly to tomatoes or stone fruit.

Olive trees are sensitive to winter freeze (the Casaliva cultivar is more resistant to cold, hence being grown in the Garda region).  It is also easier to farm organically where the climate is more stable and less chemical sprays are required to keep the trees healthy.



Here’s the thing – all olives are green.  When they become fully mature, they turn black.
Olive maturity at the time of harvest is a major factor in flavour and quality: olives harvested earlier (green olives) feature more bitter, grassy characteristics, with lower yields and with the highest anti-oxidant content.  The oil is a much more intense green colour and has a longer shelf-life.  In terms of production, milling can take longer with green olives (a longer malaxation - the action of slowly churning milled olives to release droplets of oil - is needed and can be more complicated) but the results are far superior!  Don’t choose olive oil from over mature fruit: it lacks all the potential goodness and flavour.



People who care passionately about what they make and follow it personally every day have the capacity to create products with far higher quality, with integrity, and that taste of where they come from.  They are also able to do this by caring for the environment they inhabit.


This box contains 6 bottles of extra virgin olive oil made exclusively by Frantoio di Riva from groves on the banks of lake Garda.

Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO green label x 3 bottles (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO organic white label x 1 bottle (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO blue label x 1 bottle (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, ULIVA Garda Trentino DOP x 1 bottle (50cl)

Crostoni for Lunch

3 Sourdough Crostoni

Living in Southern Tuscany one should not complain about the food – and we don’t – but we do miss good sourdough, like the one we used to get a Gail’s when we lived in London. So when we happen to be in Florence we always try to pop in to S.Forno in the Oltrarno to pick a couple of loaves – and spend the next few days binging on delicious (non Tuscan) bread!

Crostoni (Tuscan open sandwiches) are perfect for lunch, and especially in September when you start wanting something slightly warmer to eat in the middle of the day.  I’ve made 3 different types here: with zucchini flowers, anchovies and gruyere, with brie, parma ham and figs, and a slightly spicy one with chard.

There are different flavours at play in each crostone, so you can experiment a little bit with different Olive Oils (the bieta crostone, for example, will want one with a stronger impact, such as Viola’s Inprivio or Franci’s Le Trebbiane, while the brie based crostone would work best with one of from Frantoio di Riva on the banks of lake Garda).


Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a starter


Crostone ai fiori di zucca, gruyere e alici

2 slices of bread.

2 big zucchini flowers

2 anchovy fillets

Gruyere Cheese 50 g – sliced.


Crostone con brie, prosciutto e fichi

2 slices of bread.

2 slices of brie

2 figs, cut in quarters, skin off.

2 slices of prosciutto crudo

Little bit of thyme


Crostone alla bieta ripassata

2 slices of bread.

Chard 150g

1 small Garlic clove whole

1 small peperoncino (chili), cut in small pieces.

Zest of ½ a lemon


Wash the chard well and boil in salted water until tender (about 5 minutes), drain, squeezing all the water out of it, then slice in small pieces.

Cut the base from the zucchini flower, taking off the stem.

Put the 2 slices of bread under the grill.

Pour some oil in a pan on a medium heat and cook the garlic clove to ‘flavour’ the oil (don’t burn it). When soft and brown, take the garlic out of the pan and add the chili, turn the heat up a little and put the chard in to absorb the flavours. When drying up take off the heat.

Take the bread off the grill, turn around so the untoasted side is facing up.

On two slices layer the gruyere, anchovy fillets and flowers and put back under the grill.

Toast the other 4 slices of bread.

On two of these drizzle some olive oil, place the chard, a little pepper and the lemon zest, then some more EVOO on top

On the other two, layer the brie, then the ham, then the figs, sprinkle a few thyme leaves on them, a little bit of pepper and a drizzle of EVOO

Take the crostoni from the oven, when the cheese is melted, and drizzle a little bit of EVOO over the flowers, plate and serve immediately.