Thursday, November 3, 2011

Olive oil lesson

November 2

Another great and very interesting day.

We really started out as locals by doing our shopping for dinner in the morning. First picked out a sea bass at the fish shop caught this morning; and then to the vegetable stand for potatoes and Swiss chard. That is how fish is served in this area.

We packed a lunch and walked several miles to see some local family olive oil operations. There are several outside of town. Olive pressing is pretty high tech these days. Everything is mechanized: washing the olives first, "mashing" them, separating the water and other foreign matter from the oil using a centrifuge (this is the pressing operation), and finally straining the oil to remove any last matter. Now it's ready to use.

One is owned and operated by the Beletic family. Their son Kristian is the owner of Tobasco konoba just next to where we live. His mother, Georgia, owns Torcic 18, also a restaurant and sobe (guest house) a few more steps down our street.

Another young woman, Michelle ("like your first lady") Babic, whom we had already met at a tourist center in town, runs an olive operation with her husband, Ante. They started only 5 years ago with a 500€ loan, bought 200 olive trees that are over 100 years old; built a new production building and equipment; then they have added 1,300 more trees.

She took lots of time with us explaining their operation. It runs 24 hours a day for almost two months during the pressing season. They are very proud of their production here in Istria since they only produce extra virgin olive oil, which means only oil from the first pressing is used. They use cold press, which processes the olives at less than 27c. It takes 10-15 Mg of raw olives to produce 1 liter of oil. Kind of like maple syrup, which takes 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup.

Learning about the making of olive oil was on my wish list, so this was perfect.

We both worked on dinner and it was such a grand success. Think we will expand into using truffles next !

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