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)

Christmas in Italy

It’s gorgeous in Italy in late November.  If you blinker yourselves from the obvious toyshops you will still see it’s just late autumn everywhere and Christmas isn’t yet the central feature.  This will change over the next couple of weeks and the 8th December, the day that the immaculate conception is celebrated here with a national holiday, Christmas begins in earnest.  This is the day that families tend to put their tree up and decorate their houses – how perfectly Italian to have a day dedicated to this and to reflect on the meaning of the celebration.

That said, certainly amongst the younger generations, religion isn’t the centrepiece of Christmas that it used to be.  Of course it is now quite commercial here too.  You may go to midnight mass or perhaps a morning service on the 25th and of course most houses have a model nativity scene on show but it feels as if this is more for the sake of tradition than core belief.

Above all, Christmas in Italy is about family and much of that centres around the table.   There is a gorgeous tradition of preparing food all together across the generations and then enjoying it in a leisurely way.

The feast typically begins on the 24th with dinner that might well have fish as the theme throughout the courses.  Then on the 25th certainly extensive antipasti followed by probably tortellini in brodo (a delicious, comforting but typically light broth) and then a secondo of roasted meat (each family has its own preference depending on the region or their own traditions). Contorni of course of roasted potatoes and perhaps some seasonal vegetables typically enjoyed after the meat.  Then to something a little sweeter: the obligatory panettone, as well as perhaps a more regional dessert.  The 26th is usually reserved for extended family when it’s not typical to have a day of ‘left-overs’ but rather a whole new feast of generous, elaborate treats.  And so it goes on until the New Year culminating on 6th January with the visit of La Befana, the witch who brings coal to naughty children and chocolate to angels.

This year we expect a particularly special Christmas in the Berger family with the arrival of our second son anticipated in the middle of December.  What a magical end to the year.  We wish the same for you all.