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 noble Borlotto

The noble Borlotto is King among legumes.

Grown most successfully in the Veneto and specifically in Lamon where they are famed for their production (if you are buying dried Borlotti, then it’s worth looking for the origin Lamon), borlotti beans are high in potassium and magnesium as well as giving a decent dose of iron and vitamin B6. Borlotti are extremely good for you and just the ticket as the weather turns colder.

With a beautifully nutty flavour and creamy texture very little needs to be done to them to create a fabulous side dish.  Put the podded beans in to a cast-iron pan with a couple of cloves of garlic, a couple of chopped tomatoes, a few sage leaves and a generous glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Then add water to just cover the beans.  Bake in the oven (around 170C) with the lid on until they are completely soft but still holding their form.  A dash of good vinegar and a swirl of decisive EVOO brings them to life once cooked.  THIS is what beans on toast is all about.  Served with a soft poached egg and you will be in anglo-italian brunch heaven.

If you’re looking for further inspiration, Ed Smith’s brilliant On The Side book has a great recipe for Borlotti beans with cavolo nero that he suggests should accompany slow cooked lamb.  Regal flavour combinations going on here as he also includes some hazelnut.

Borlotti are also incredible in stews and soups, which couldn’t be better for this time of the year.  Rachel Roddy has a wonderful recipe for Pasta e Fagioli in her bible ‘Five Quarters that we sometimes also add a pepperoncino to.  This is one of the most comforting dishes you could eat – it truly is soul food.

The one tip I can give you for cooking Borlotti is not to over salt early in the process, otherwise the skins can remain tough.  Better to add salt when they are almost cooked, just so it integrates.