CULTIVAR

 

There are around 800 different Olive Cultivars in Italy alone, many of which are used for Olive Oil. Similarly to grape varieties in wine, the Olive cultivar influences the flavour profile of your oil.  Different cultivars, depending on size of fruit, thickness of the skin, composition of the pulp can produce different yields, varying concentrations of anti-oxidants and overall different quality levels.

LOCATION AND CLIMATE

 

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.

OLIVE MATURITY

 

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.

ATTENTION TO DETAIL IN GROVE AND MILL

 

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.

FRANTOIO DI RIVA BOX

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)

Homemade Tagliatelle al Ragù

Homemade pasta al ragù is a wonderful classic Italian dish and is surprisingly easy to make.  As is often the case with Italian food, simplicity is key – but of course you can add vegetables or other meats to the ragù if you wish. This is a child friendly version.  You will need a pasta rolling machine to make the tagliatelle.

 

FRESH PASTA DOUGH

Serves 4

200 g plain 00 flour

2 eggs

pinch of salt

Semolina flour for dusting

 

Sift the flour and salt into a mound on your work surface, making a little hole in the middle, where you pour in the beaten eggs. Incorporate the flour and eggs slowly with your fingers and kneed quite strongly for 10 minutes until the dough is quite elastic – if you find it to be too firm, add a little water, and conversely if it’s too wet add a little flour – then shape it into a ball and leave to rest for 20 minutes under a cloth.  Kneed the dough once more and feed it into the pasta machine, from the largest setting to a medium (usually indicated as 4), passing the dough sheet a few times, always sprinkling a little semolina flour between the sheets. Cut out to tagliatelle size, sprinkle with a little more semolina flour and leave to dry for about 1 hour.When you cook it will won’t take more than 5 minutes in boiling water.

 

TUSCAN RAGU

 

Serves 4

400g Minced Beef and Pork (a 70:30 mix works best if you can get it, otherwise pure beef)

1 White onion

2 Carrots (peeled and cut in half)

2 Celery sticks (cut the same size as carrots)

1lt Tomato Passata

4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil: We used Tradizione from Frantoio Viola in Umbria

Red wine (a good glut)

A small piece of parmesan rind

Maldon salt and milled black pepper

We have a household issue with ragu – our small boys don’t like pieces in it.  So we have to make it as smooth as possible, the way you might find it in a restaurant.  This is a classic Tuscan version.Peel the onion and slice in half. Place in a large deep frying pan that has a lid and simmer very gently in extra virgin olive oil for 7 minutes – this gives a sweet aroma to the oil.  Remove the onion.  Then in the same oil, gently cook the minced meat until it has released all  it’s liquid, stirring often so it browns well and the mince separates.  Add a generous glug of red wine and keep mixing and breaking the mince into small pieces.Once it has absorbed the wine add in the passata, a bit more wine red wine (better wine makes better ragu), the carrots, celery, and if you have it a piece of parmesan rind. Season to taste.Cover the pan and simmer very gently for at least an hour.  If the ragu is drying out at all, add in some water.  Once it’s ready remove the carrots, celery and cheese rind.You can make this in advance – it’s best on day 2  (or it freezes well) or enjoy straight away.Once mixed with your tagliatelle, finish with a further drizzle of a decisive central Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  We particularly like Moraiolo for this.

Orange Olive Oil Cake

Breakfast

Breakfast in Italy is mainly a sweet affair. Cornetto (croissant) is the staple food in the morning at the bar with your cappuccino, while at home cake is wholly acceptable. So to balance our January reset and to bridge that Christmas feeling well into the new year, we are eating Orange Olive Oil Cake made with the most sensational oranges from the Librandi estate in Calabria and their exceptional olive oil.

The recipe itself is inspired by eclectic Australian food writer Julia Ostro, who learnt this from her time in Tuscany. It’s quite liquid (as it should be) so don’t use huge oranges – but do use all the rind.

Ingredients

3 oranges

3 eggs

500g caster sugar

300ml extra virgin olive oil

300ml milk

300g self-raising flour

400 ml water

Which EVOO to use?

We used Librandi Carolea from Calabria, which gives that buttery feel, and has a delicate fresh olive profile balanced with hints of almond and sage.

Method

Wash and cut 1 orange in thin slices.

In a wide pan slowly dissolve 200 grams of sugar in the water. Bring to a soft simmer and place the orange slices in the water, making sure they don’t overlap, for 20 minutes. Turn the orange slices around and cook for another 20 minutes. Once the rind is translucent and the water thick and syrupy place the slices on a wire-rack to cool down.

Keep the syrup for later use.

Preheat the oven at 180 C and grease a tin

Zest two oranges and mix the zest with the remaining sugar in a bowl. Take your time here and enjoy the fragrance.  Add the eggs and beat well, then add the milk, the juice from the the zested oranges and the olive oil.

In a separate bowl sift the flower, then add the liquid ingredients, mix well and pour into the baking tin. Cook for about 40 minutes, then take the cake out of the tin and let cool completely.

Once everything is cool, top the cake with the orange slices and add drizzle a bit of syrup.