Slow Food Mother City teamed up with Olive Central for our most recent event, a tutored olive oil tasting. Our last olive event was a year and a half ago when we went to visit Rio Largo olive estate to see how olives are harvested and turned into olive oil. The tutored tasting was held in town, at a restaurant in the foreshore, called Thornton Whites. Willie Duminy of Porteville Olives, the producers of Andante olive products, presented the tasting.
Willie started by sharing some background information about how olives are grown, harvested and turned into olive oil. He also illuminated some of the mystery surrounding what extra virgin means and what the difference between proper olive oil and pomace oil is. After hearing the scary process, involving some unpleasant chemicals and a lot of heat, used to make pomace oil, everyone resolved never to touch it again!
Willie then passed around the first olive oil taster. Which was not really a ‘taster’ as we were not allowed to taste it, only smell it. That’s because Willie was concerned for our health. He had given us a typical imported olive oil which was manifesting several faults including fustiness and rancidity. Many who smelled it turned their nose up at the sharp aroma, but some commented that the smell is not uncommon in South Africa. Willie explained that people have become accustomed to consuming faulty oil because they buy the cheapest oil on the shelf.
To demonstrate what good olive oil should smell like, we tested the first taster. Aromas of fresh cut grass and leaves jumped out of the sampling receptacle. These are the characteristics of a fresh, good quality oil. Willie reassured us that most South African olive oil is good quality like this and that we should stick to local oils to be safe. There are brilliant foreign oils, but few of them make it onto our shelves and they are hard to find.
We compared 3 different Andante oils, one delicate, one medium and one intense. Willie explained that different varieties of olives are used in differing amounts to make the oil more or less intense. We learnt how to make slurping noises when the oil was in our mouth so that we could run air over it and release the flavours properly. We could detect differences in the bitterness, pepperiness and mouth feel.
Many people were surprised at the big difference between the different oils. It was explained that one should use different intensity oils for different applications. For instance, delicate oils are good for cooking with because the oil does not affect the flavour of the oil as much. While more intense oils are great for salad dressing, etc where the flavour can be appreciated. Willie could have shared more information about olive oil but we ran out of time.
We learnt much and were pleased to leave with a bottle of Andante olive oil each to enjoy. Andante Olive Oil is produced from olives grown on Wêreldsgeluk Olive Estate in Porterville at the Western foothills of the Winterhoek mountain range. To learn more about the products, visit the Andante olive Oil website.
Olive Central is an online portal connecting consumers to local producers of olive oil and other olive products. To learn more about olive oil, visit the Olive Central website.