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)

EVOO PAIRING: Le Trebbiane

We are often asked to recommend a good, benchmark Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil and one of our favourites is Le Trebbiane from Frantoio Franci.  A medium intense oil from a single East facing grove that benefits from the cooler morning sun, Le Trebbiane is a blend of Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino and a small amount of Olivastra and features complex, herbal notes with a hint of artichoke and a good peppery kick.  For this reason, it works well with grains, pulses and red meat where it balances the earthiness and lifts the natural flavours.

Spelt Salad with pickled vegetables and edible flowers

Cook the spelt in lightly salted water (approx 30 mins) and then cool. You can add anything you like, any seasonal veg. Here we had it with some preserved vegetables (aubergine, peppers) plus lightly sautéed onion, carrot, fennel. Throw in some radicchio leaves and a few edible blue flowers if you can find (borage, chicory or bergamot would work).
The dressing is with apple cider vinegar which adds a touch of sweetness and Le Trebbiane which imparts a lovely peppery persistence.

Roasted Spring Lamb served with Cannellini beans

Lamb isn’t hugely loved in Italy.  Italians often say that they find the flavour too strong, which to me, having grown up near the Welsh border, means that they have been eating mutton.  New season lamb is delicate and one of the finest meats you can enjoy (ecologically as well as flavour-wise), so now is the season to make the most of it.

Here we serve it with cannellini beans that have been soaked overnight before cooking and then quickly sautéed with garlic, rosemary and white wine, salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil.  We also drizzle with oil at the point of serving to add a freshness and peppery bite to the dish.

 

Penne with new season asparagus and ricotta salata

This simple pasta dish is brought together with the use of lemon and extra virgin olive oil.

The Italian kitchen still lives so much by the seasons and the window for asparagus really is only around 6 weeks, so we take full advantage.  Super fine, wild asparagus has not only a fine intensity but retains its bite when cooked, so creates a great texture in this pasta dish.  Ricotta is also at its best in the spring months and we’ve gone for a hard ricotta here, but the dish can work with fresh ricotta or even pecorino as an alternative.

The asparagus just needs a couple of minutes to cook and once drained can be stirred through the pasta with some olive oil, lemon zest and shavings of ricotta.  It works well with the addition of some lemon thyme.