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)

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Finally Spring

Finally spring! Frankly we’ve had enough of cavolo nero and cabbage, and long for the fresh flavours of the new season, like freshly podded peas and broad-beans, and the king of vegetables that is artichoke… To celebrate spring we have created a menu that takes in all the flavours of the season, using oils to match. This is a meal for consenting adults only, combining the freshness of the new season, bold flavours and a lot of garlic. It is also mostly vegetarian.

Two starters:

Broad-bean hummus with gremolala of feta & olive inspired by a similar dish in Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques, as a central dip and

Braised fennel with capers and olives as found in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More – this dish oozes full flavours. As the fennel softens, it gets infused with the classic mediterranean scents of garlic, tomatoes, olives and capers. Served with a little fresh ricotta to add a soft saltiness, it is a very satisfying starter, that contrasts the freshness of broad-bean hummus, which is rich in garlic, and has a tangy feta gremolata, adding an extra high note.

For the hummus we used: S’Ciappau from Paolo Cassini. An amazing 100% Taggiasca from the Ligurian hillsides with an incredibly high polyphenol content.

For the Fennel, we used: monocultivar Lea from the Gregori brothers in the Marche. New to our portfolio, these guys are desperately hard working and precise. We love their interpretation of Lea, made only by 5 or 6 producers in the Tesino valley as it stretches down towards the Adriatic sea. Rich in polyphenols, it pairs well with pulses, nuts and fully flavoured vegetables.

We drank: Zanotto Rude Col Fondo. Out there and interesting bottle fermented sparkling wine.

Main Course:

Mixing black rice & farro gives nuttiness, depth and and a visually very satisfying base to any dish. The rice and the farro are cooked separately in a risotto method with onions, bay and a little chilli, then combined later when plating. The vegetarian main option was Vignarola (pictured), a wonderful Roman spring vegetable stew, that can only be cooked for a very short period, when artichokes, broad-beans and fresh peas are all available at the same time. We wrote about Vignarola in the past and it’s a dish that is easier than it looks, although it needs attention, and one that can be really cooked to personal taste. As a classic roman dish, it is growing in popularity and can be eaten with soft cheese or as a starter by itself. The non veggie option was tangerine infused seabass, again inspired and adapted by Suzanne Goin’s recipe in the stunning Sunday Suppers at Lucques. In Italy the seabass we get is much smaller than the cold water ones in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, so we need to be more gentle with the amount of marinade, but end of season tangerines have an extra sweetness, that balances beautifully with the black rice & farro bed on which it is plated. The original recipe calls for pea-shoots to be added, but they were not available (not quite in season yet), so we mixed in some fresh tarragon from the garden.

For the Vignarola we used Frantoi Cutrera Primo Bio. We have recently switched to the ‘organic’ version of Primo. Same great, classic Sicilian style bursting with tomato leaf and decisive wild herbs but with the added certification of its organic olives.

For the Seabass we used Frantoio Librandi Carolea, which is a delicious delicate olive oil from the organic Librandi estate in Calabria that recalls the fresh olive and features sage and pine nut in fine balance.

We drank: San Polino Helichrysum Brunello di Montalcino 2012.  Epic, majestic and very well judged from this beautiful biodynamic estate.

Dessert:

Olive Oil Choccolate Cake by Diane Henry

This is a super luscious, dark, adult cake, that infuses the richness of chocolate and nuttiness of olive oil, served with a bit of sour cream. It’s a perfect ending to a long healthy spring meal.

We used: De Carlo’s Il Classico, the ideal butter substitute!

Nothing can really be prepped in advance in this meal, so give you self an early start and plan the sequence well. Start by marinating the fish, then do the cake, and when it’s in the oven, cook the rice & the farro at the same time. Pod the broad beans (it always takes much longer than you remember), and the peas. Then start working on the braised fennel dish, then the vignarola, and when the starters are finished you can cook the fish. There are no particularly complicated passages, but you need to keep your pace up, since there is a lot to do!

The recipes for Suzanne’s Goin’s dishes can be found online here and here , however we recommend you buy her cookbook to get the original understanding of these dishes.