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)

Black Chickpea Soup

Black Chickpea Soup

We spent a great morning with Raffaella Cova recently (see interview here), of www.lunchwithraffaella.com.  Based in Montalcino, Raffaella runs amazing cooking classes and a catering service for events and nearby villas.  Amongst the various wonderful dishes she taught us, these black chickpeas were a complete surprise that we thought was worth sharing.


Ceci neri are a rare and ancient type of chickpea, which come from Northern Puglia and Basilicata.  They are quite a bit smaller than their pale cousins, and have a nuttier, grainier taste. Think of the difference between white and brown rice and you get an idea of how much fuller the taste is of Ceci neri. Chickpeas are an integral part of the Mediterranean diet and this black variety is also particularly rich in iron, to the point that they were traditionally reserved for expectant and new mothers.  As with many traditional grains and legumes, after years of anonymity, they are being rediscovered and now available thanks to a handful of small, often organic farmers, as well as organisations such as Slow Food.  The only draw-back is that ceci neri need a much longer soaking and cooking time than normal chickpeas – so you need to plan this dish in advance. Serves 4.


300 gr dried Black Chickpeas soaked in water for at least 18 hours.
2 garlic cloves
1 sprig of rosemary
1 dozen cherry tomatoes, chopped


Which EVOO to use?

The robust flavour of this dish lends itself perfectly to an oil with plenty of spice and structure such as Le Trebbiane from Frantoio Franci or Il Sincero from Frantoio Viola.


After draining the soaked chickpeas, put them in a saucepan, cover with water, add 1 clove of garlic and the sprig of rosemary and some salt, bring to the boil, then simmer for about 3 hours – topping up with water if necessary. 


When ready (taste them to check for seasoning and to experience the full taste of a black chickpea), drain them, retaining some of their liquid, and liquidise with a hand held blender, using their water if too dry. Don’t mush, try to find the balance between the fact that you are making a soup (using the cooking liquid), but you still want to have some bite and experience some of the texture.  Check for seasoning and adjust to taste.


In a separate pan, cook the remaining clove of garlic in abundant olive oil, making sure it doesn’t burn, and add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes, until they are warm and you see the beginning of their breakdown.


Plate the chickpea soup, topping with a few tomatoes, a hint of rosemary, abundant olive oil and some pepper.