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.



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.



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.


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)

Making Sugo for the winter recipe Frantoi,org

Making Sugo for the Winter

It strikes me that I haven’t tasted tomatoes as delicious as this year’s since we moved to Italy in 2013. As a matter of fact, the melons and peaches have also been superior this summer. There’s still everything to play for in terms of the Olive harvest of course which won’t begin until early October, but the signs so far are looking fantastic and we can’t wait to taste the first sips of the 2016 raccolta.


August is a busy month for us, spending as much time as possible outside, hosting family and friends, working around the edges and of course preserving the very best of the summer’s fruit and vegetables to sustain us over the winter. We spent last weekend making ‘sugo’, a tomato based sauce that is a staple in these parts and can be used to make classic ragù, melanzane parmigiana, or spiced up as aglione or amatriciana or for the children a super quick pasta sauce that is packed full of vegetable goodness.
You are still in time to make this in the UK if you can find the right tomatoes – they should be heavy and ripe, full of perfume and with a firm skin for best results. Typically 10kg of tomatoes plus 3kg of soffrito (an even mix of finely chopped white onions, carrots, celery) makes around 25-30 jars (300g) of sugo. Please let me know if you would like a more precise recipe!


Then to the olive oil. You could be forgiven for thinking that if you are cooking with olive oil that you can drop the quality level right down and spend less… these choices are pretty personal, but if you’ve bought the very best tomatoes and you are making all of the effort to carefully peel and chop your vegetables, slow simmer for hours, blender or mouli, why would you use a tasteless or low quality oil? To me, that doesn’t make sense. For all of our sugo for this winter, we used ‘Il Classico’ from Frantoio De Carlo in Puglia. This oil is perfect with vegetables, it has a rich, luxurious texture, is high in polyphenols (great for longevity of the sugo) and has enough spice and sweet almond character to compliment the ripe tomatoes.