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)

Gnudi di Ricotta e Spinaci

Gnudi are light dumplings, truly delicious and easy to make.  In Tuscany we use fresh ricotta during the spring, which is a sheep’s cheese but you could replace with either cow or buffalo ricotta depending on what you can find.

 

For 4 people

500g spinach leaves
250g fresh sheep’s Ricotta
2 large free-range organic eggs
¼ of a freshly grated nutmeg (we major on this because we all love it)
25g Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Maldon salt and milled black pepper
1.5 tbsp Tipo ‘00’ flour, plus extra for dusting
100g fine semolina flour
125g unsalted butter, softened
A generous amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil: we used Moraiolo from Frantoio Franci
A small bunch of fresh sage leaves

Cut the stalks from the spinach and wash carefully.  Place the damp leaves in a pan over a low heat and allow to wilt, stiring all the time. Drain, squeezing every bit of water out.  Chop finely and let cool.  Beat the ricotta with a fork and add the chopped spinach.  Add the eggs, nutmeg and Parmesan and season.  Fold in the flour and dust a board with more flour.

Take a wine glass and dust it with semolina.  Put a dessertspoon of the ricotta/spinach mixture into the glass and swill it around until a shape is formed.  The gnudi must be well coated with the semolina.  Place them on the floured board.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.  Drop in the gnudi in batches and cook until they float.  This will take about 5 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the warmed dish with a drizzle of EVOO.  Keep warm while you cook the rest.

Slowly melt the butter and the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 50:50) in a thick-bottomed pan over a low heat; add the sage leaves and just let them wilt and blend.  Serve the gnudi with the sage butter/oil and Parmesan and a green salad on the side.