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)

THE BIG PIZZA DEBATE

Very few debates in Italy provoke more division than which pizza people prefer: Neapolitan or Roman. There are naturally other types of pizza in Italy, but these tend to be a variation of focaccia with toppings – but pizza, real Pizza, is round delicious and either comes from Rome or from Naples.

 

Let’s be clear, Roman pizza is very much the underdog in this competition.  A Neapolitan probably doesn’t even consider Roman pizza anything but a wafer with some toppings on it.  The case for Roman pizza isn’t helped by the fact that internal (and international) migration of people from the Campania region brought their delicacy all across Italy influencing perceptions of what pizza should be.  As a matter of fact, competition for the best pizza restaurants regularly feature 7 out of 10 restaurants from Campania, with the rest from Rome and Neapolitan pizza joints in the north.  So there shouldn’t be any competition… should there?  In old Roman times they would say de gustibus non est disputandum (“In matters of taste, there can be no disputes”) and pizza (in Italy at least) does originate from Roman times.

 

Ancient Roman Pinsa (with an N & S, from the word for stretched) is the precursor of modern pizza and focaccia.  The types of flour used (spelt and barley) reflect the times, and a sourdough starter would have been used.  It had a high water content and lots of olive oil to make it digestible. Naturally the toppings would not have included tomatoes. The ancient grains are making a comeback – particularly as more people are seeking to counter the high gluten content of white flour.

 

Neapolitan pizza has to be made in a certain way and only in that way to be labeled Neapolitan (there even is a kind of pizza police to check this), and the rules are stringent: from water content (minimum 60%) to the proofing time (between 12 and 24 hours), to the temperature in which the wood oven is set (between 450 and 500 celcius, which means the pizza cooks in less than 2 minutes) and naturally only the best ingredients.  The Pizza itself has a high and soft crust, soft centre, is luscious, delicious, light, has to be folded to eat and is quite a substantial meal in itself.

 

Roman pizza on the other hand is very thin, flat, has a crispy crust, and is slightly crunchy (scrocchiarella romans would call it).  The dough has less water (55%) and more oil (EVOO naturally), it’s proofed in cool fridges and cooked for longer (about 3 minutes) in wood fired ovens that are not as hot (350C). The pizza itself is considered lighter than its cousin from the south, easier to digest (an important factor here in Italy), you can have more than one since they are not as filling.

 

So, which one is the best?  De gustibus and tradition play an important part here: do you want to eat just pizza or do you want other things in your meal as well (or two pizzas!)? Do you prefer an indulgent fluffy high base or crisp light base? Find a way to try them both, and let us know which one you prefer… (We prefer the Roman variety, but don’t tell our friends from Naples!)