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Who has not heard about the magnificent and tasty Italian virgin olive oil? Yet how many people know that much of this oil is Spanish? Help us to stop the Italian scam on Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Indeed Spain is the largest producer of olive oil in the world and sells 65% of that oil to Italians who make their own labels and export that oil to the rest of the world. Apparently Spain is a better producer than seller.
In fact, Italy exports three times more oil than it produces. But what consumers may not realise is that Italy exports oil whose labels say “100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil” and yet only 60 % of that oil is extra virgin. This 60% is mostly Spanish, which has the properties and quality of a real Extra Virgin oil (in aroma and acidity). Italy uses Greek and Moroccan oil as well.
The only way that Spanish oil can demonstrate its quality is with the Protected Designations of Origin. This certification is only granted if the bottling of the oil takes place in the same place where it is produced. One example of this Protected Denomination of outstanding quality is D.O. Sierra Mágina. This area, located in the south of Spain (Jaen), is the largest area with certificate of origin of those registered in the European Union. The oil from this area is famous for its quality and beneficial properties, and is one of the best oils in Spain and hence in the world.
One of the reasons why Spainisdelicious was born was to stand up and point out good quality Spanish products, and to attempt to protect artisans and small producers from the dirty tactics of big industry. All the products we talk about are sold in our partner shop Spaininabox, and are made by small producers that care about their produce as if they were their own children.
So if you want to buy really good extra virgin oil, first you have to check if it has its certificate of origin, and question the famous Italian oil that is on the shelves of all the big stores. If you wish to know more about the provenance of Italian Olive Oil I strongly recommend you take a look at Nicholas Blechman’s article in The New York Times or this article and Tom Mueller’s article, both in The Guardian.
Spainisdelicious will try, as best it can, to act as an antidote to these tactics in two ways: by highlighting selected producers that work ethically in the production process, and by arranging visits to their workplaces so you can see with your own eyes how everything is done.
Remember that you may pay a bit more for Spanish oil than for Italian, but sometimes it is better to spend a little bit more on our health. Buying cheaper olive oil in the end is going to be a false economy because you are likely paying for something that is not even olive oil.
Everybody has heard about Chorizo, the typical Spanish cured meat made with pork. Yet, have you ever heard about venison chorizo? Or even wild boar and game chorizo? These delicacies are just some of the enormous variety of cured wild meats that ArteMonte proudly produces.
Founded in 2005, in the town of Aldeaquemada, on the border between Andalusia and Castille-La Mancha, this enterprise puts strong emphasis on combining craft traditions with modern industrial features. It is rated as one of the most recognised producers of wild-game produce in the Iberian Peninsula, with a very strong sense of social and environmental responsibility.
Only the highest-quality ingredients are selected before being processed, and are stuffed into natural casings and hand-tied one by one. ArteMonte produce ranges from the well-known pork chorizo to the less-common venison, game, wild boar or mallard chorizos. Smoked flavours of paprika will reach your hypothalamus giving you an irresistible urge to taste a thin slice. Apart from chorizo, ArteMonte also offers a variety of salamis; again with venison, game, wild boar or mallard.
However, beyond doubt, the star product of Artemonte is the Venison Cecina. Delightful, mouth-watering, delicious: Cecina is a smoked meat without almost any fat and, I have to confess, my favourite cured meat. Artemonte uses a special recipe. After the venison ham is smoked, it goes through a curing process in thyme that makes it easy to distinguish, adding a very unique touch.
Other of their specialities are “in Orza” products. At this point you must be thinking I love using funny words. Well, that’s true, but not in this case. Orza refers to a traditional way of preserving meats in clay jars. The meats are initially slowly fried and then put into jars, covering them with the olive oil used in the frying. In the time when there weren’t any fridges this was the only way to feed the whole family throughout the whole year. Now with all the technology in our hands this would make no sense, if it wasn’t for the fact that it is still the tastiest way to preserve the meat with all the flavours created in the curation in olive oil.
If you haven’t started to salivate yet, let’s go with some of their other products. They have a selection of ready-to-eat tapas like their venison bolognese, venison meatballs or the acclaimed beans-with-game chorizo. You just have to heat them and they are ready to eat in a couple of minutes!
While the tapas are heating up you can get a handful of crackers and taste their famous variety of pates : mallard duck, partridge, wild boar or venison amongst others.
If you are planning a foodie travel to Spain we give you some clues in this area in Five things to do in Sierra Mágina and if you want to arrange a visit to their work place just need to tell us.
Check their whole range in spaininabox.co.uk and coment to win one of their tasting packs, a perfect Christmas gift.
1. The caves of Jódar: in the XVI century, hundreds of poor people started to live in the caves near the mountains, because it was the only affordable way to live. People still lived there till the sixties, when everybody was relocated into new neighbourhoods; and yet, even today the memory of the people who lived in those caves remains. They are located in a beautiful set of sandstone mountains, where you can still see the original doors and small windows of the caves. Of course, you can’t easily miss the Castle of Jódar.
2. A peculiar touristic route: this area was conquered by the Moors so there are many small towns constructed as fortresses in circular form providing ready-made routes. In Torres you can rest and enjoy the silence, and for the foodies, have a delicious meal made with local products. Then you can continue on to Cambil, a beautiful location, and then drive to Solera with its impossible-hanging houses on gullies. Pedalajar with its Cultural Heritage- terraced gardens and Bedmar, with its magnificent Al-Mazar Fortress are further attractions. Naturally, it is impossible to name all the beautiful towns you can visit, and one of the best choices is to drive where your fancy takes you.
3. Trekking: “La Caldera del Tio Lobo” is an amazing trek which everyone can attempt, as it takes just four and a half hours to complete the round trip. You can get by car to the Albanchez Peak and start the route there. The route goes along a magnificent deep precipice, with beautiful cliffs and small waterfalls taking you to the end of the route, where you reach the “Tio Lobo Waterfall” and a wonderful landscape with nature pools that you will remember forever.
4. Visit an almazara: it is impossible not to mention the Denomination of Origin “Sierra Magina” olive oil. The whole National Park and the surrounding region is encircled by olive groves that are used to make one of the best extra virgin olive oils in Spain. In Jimena you can visit a public almazara ( the place where the olive oil is made), Oro de Canava. You can see how the olive oil is made and purchase some of this magnificent liquid gold in the shop attached to the almazara.
5. Where to eat: in Pedalajar you can stop a little bit longer and try the meals that the restaurant “El Rincón de la Charca” offers. This restaurant has a fine selection of cured meats, game and garden produce. It is located in a very beautiful landscape and decorated in a modern, rustic style. In fact, all the small towns have restaurants and “tabernas” where you can enjoy incredible meals at very affordable prices.
Now you have all the tools to make your foodie holidays unforgettable. Come on, don’t procrastinate! Start your amazing trip through Sierra Magina now.
Oh yes!!! A muffin shaped tapa using venison, potatoes, cream and some other ingredients. How to use meatballs far from a convenctional way? This idea came to our heads while playing with Artemonte Venison Meatballs at Xavi’s, one of the partners in this project. He was thinking more on a cupcake but a glass of red @ 3Cepas helped putting things on my side.
Lets start with the shopping list for 8 of these muffins but take in account quantities will vary depending on the size of your moulds:
- 500g potatoes
- 1 red onion
- 50g onion chives
- 400g Venison Meatballs, you can use any but I strongly recommend this twist for an smart and tasty touch.
- 100 ml double cream
- Salt, pepper and nutmeg
- 2 tspn EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
Grate the potatoes and thinly slice the red onion. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the potatoes and onion. Fry at medium heat for about 7 min stirring every couple of minutes.
Meanwhile add salt, pepper and some nutmeg to the cream, heat and simmer for 1 min.
Once the potatoes and onion are done (a bit undercooked), add the previously chopped chives and mix thoroughly. Take the mould and just cover the bottom with the mix.
Place a venison meatball in the middle and fill the mould around with more mix covering the meatball. Pour the cream in the mould; do it slowly so the cream can fill the spaces in between.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC and place the moulds in the middle. Bake for about 10min until the top is golden.
Serve and enjoy!! In my experience, a glass of red wine was a perfect companion.
Established in 1976 in Jaen in the Sierra Mágina region, Oro de Canava is considered one of the best extra virgin olive oils in the region. This oil is produced in a region designated as a National Park due to its outstanding natural beauty and large variety of foliage giving it its superior quality.
The love and care for this produce begins in the grounds of the partners of this cooperative, where they only select the olives from the tree, not the ones on the ground. Only the best Picual olives are selected at the optimum point of maturation, and harvested early to increase the fruity overtones of this fabulous olive oil. In addition, the microclimate of the Sierra (Spanish for mountain range) contributes to this liquid gold being recognized for its unique and superior organoleptic characteristics.
The characteristics of the resulting oil, winner of four prestigious awards, are “its intense fruity fragrance of green olive; its complex aromas of fresh and dried fruit – spearmint, tomato and banana peel with nuances of almond and apple; its crisp flavour, fragrant, harmonizing a light bitterness with a progressive piquancy; and its very structured and imposing quality”.
The Ministry of Agriculture of Spain granted it an award for Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2012. This oil has also won the Alcuza Award, in two consecutive years (2012-2013), and the Provincial Council of Jaen Award, 2012 and 2013. Jaen is an area of Andalucia, the largest olive oil producer in the world so they must know a bit about quality of olive oil ;-).
This extra virgin olive oil gains its name from the use made of the water flowing from the nearby Cánava Spring to wash the olives after twigs and leaves have been removed. Oro de Cánava means Gold from Cánava.
Don’t miss the chance and visit this site following one of our Gastro Routes. You can also order a sample writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy a new way of eating Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Original, attractive, modern, colourful.
This week tapa recipe is about two of the main and most acclaimed ingredients from the Spanish gastronomy, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Iberico or Serrano Ham, but, at least for olive Oil, taken to a new dimension. Almost everybody knows about the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and almost everybody have tried it before, but eating it in a solid-state is not so common.
Let’s start with the list of ingredients:
- 100ml of water
- 80gr of icing sugar
- 35gr of caster sugar
- 180ml-200ml of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 5 gelatine leaves
- Iberico Ham, as much as you like. You can always use Serrano ham but the Iberico ham will give a more nutty taste.
- Some slices of toasted sourdough bread or baguette is a perfect companion.
Ready? Let’s cook.
Leave the gelatine leaves to soak in cold water for some minutes.
Meanwhile mix the sugars and water in a pan and heat without stop stirring. As soon as it reaches 90C move apart.
Drain the gelatine leaves, add to the syrup and stir to dissolve.
It’s the moment to add the olive oil slowly while using hand mixer or a whisk to help with the emulsion. If you are using an electric hand mixer do it at medium speed.
When the gelatine thickens it’s time to go to pour in the moulds. Fill them with our jelly and place in the fridge.
Rub a garlic clove on the toasted bread, place one of our Extra Virgin Olive Oil jellies and a slice of hand carved Iberico or Serrano ham.
Close your eyes and let your mouth do the rest!!
Did you like? Let us know. Did you make your own changes to the recipes? Tell us and win a Gastro-travel.
Do you know how to distinguish a good extra virgin olive oil from another not that good? In this post you will learn how the masters do when tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).
We have all heard about the famous wine tasters, also known as sommeliers. But, have you heard about olive oil tasters? These professionals have to value the same properties in olive oil that the sommeliers do in wine.
The only big difference is that olive oil tasters do not care about the colour of oil and they taste in blue glasses so that the colour doesn’t interfere in their ratings, whereas the colour and ribbons are essential in wine tasting.
So let’s start with the tasting guide for Olive Oil, as mentioned before, in only 4 steps: visual, smell, taste and touch.
Pour the oil in a blue or at least dark glass, just about 5 tea spoons. Cover the glass with one hand and hold it with the other making small circle movements to let the aroma release. Uncover the glass and breathe in the aromas. Repeat several times varying from briefly and shortly, to deeply and slowly.
At this point tasters just check if the smell is pleasant or unpleasant, if they like it or not. Positive hints are almond, apple, grass, etc. Negatives are all unpleasant smells, for example: vinegary, rancid, etc.
Tasters slurp a little bit of oil and at the same time they take some air as well, making a peculiar weird noise. This is because the air helps the oil to spread into the mouth and highlight every hint of flavour. This noise is also done by the sommeliers and is sometimes funny to see them tasting the wine.
A fruity taste, the bitterness, and a dry sensation are positive aspects. Metallic, winey are negative tastes.
In this step you should evaluate the feel of the oil in the mouth and palate. The oil has to have a strong consistency but at the same time has to be watery. A pasty feeling is a negative aspect.
Colour is not an important aspect in olive oil tasting. It’s a common mistake thinking that an olive oil is better if it’s green. Clarity and transparency is a positive aspect when tasting olive oil. Muddy or cloudy oil is not good oil.
No one is born knowing how to taste an extra virgin olive oil and that is why these simple steps are very helpful if you are ever interested in tasting oil. Obviously, the taste depends on the taster aptitudes but also on the difficulties of the product itself.
Do not be afraid to start and became an expert in the virgin olive oil tasting. Soon we will be offering tasting packs but meanwhile you can start tasting some of this oil treasures.