Thursday, July 19, 2007
As I mentioned, there has been a lull in my blogging and I am still adrift in the Mediterranean Sea (at least from a very theoretical perspective). However, we are also changing and updating our Amelia Oil web site and we have decided to house this blog there as well. Please point your browsers to www.ameliaoil.com for more olive blogging and to order fresh pressed extra virgin olive oil.
Monday, July 09, 2007
No time to taste
Yes, lately I have had little time to stop and smell the roses or taste olive oil. I know I promised some tasting notes, but I have been drowning in the Mediterranean (figuratively, due to my new course that just started today--ethnography of the Mediterranean). Once I start to float again I will get on that.
Today I met wine writer Becky Solomon and she had recently tasted Amelia Oil. She described it as very grassy and green. I think that is quite typical of central Italian olive oils and is a good sign our oil is aging well (now about 10 months old). I think there is also a hint of pepper but the acidity is low so it stays on the front of the palate. Now I am getting excited. I promise the whole taste experience soon.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Amelia Oil selling fast!
Thank you to everyone who came out to the Dundarave farmers' market on Saturday. We had a great day and there is nothing we like more than sharing our olive oil. It is always great to see people's faces light up as they have a taste of oil with my mom's fresh baked focaccia. If you missed us, we will be at the market in Dundarave once more on July 28 (hopefully we will have some oil left).
I can never totally suppress the inner anthropologist and I am always fascinated by people's reaction to olive oil and the way in which taste works. There are those people, particularly elder Canadians, who do not really like the taste of extra virgin olive oil. Many said "It taste too much like olives," or "it's too strong." I take all of these comments to be compliments. What I realise is that much of the olive oil sold in supermarkets has little flavour at all and there are those who rarely taste straight olive oil. People need to learn about the complexities and variety of olive oil. Education of taste is so important here. I am not saying that everyone is going to like our oil and I try to tell them that there are as many types of olive oils as there are taste buds. I am just happy people are open-minded enough to try new things, like it or not.
We are selling out quickly of our latest shipment. If you would like to place an order call us or send an e-mail to arrange delivery or pick up. We'd hate for you to go without great olive oil.
In response to Ido's comment, my next post will be some tasting notes on our oil for those of you who are curious about what it is like.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Amelia Oil at the Dundarave Farmers' Market
Our latest shipment of olive oil has arrived and we are going to be at the Dundarave Farmers' Market in West Vancouver this Saturday from 10am-4pm. This is our last shipment this year so please stock up before we sell out. We are also now accepting orders for 2008 extra virgin olive oil. This year I will be filling the bottles myself in Italy and our shipment should arrive in Canada for January 2008.
Please come by and try our oil. See you at the market.
Monday, June 25, 2007
The Olive Gazette
I have really enjoyed getting reader comments the past few weeks. I was starting to think I was writing just for my own entertainment.
In particular, I have found Henry Mackay's comments stimulating and well-informed. Mackay is an olive oil producer in Jaen, Spain who writes a very interesting blog called the Olive Oil Gazette. Topics on this blog range from current prices and futures of olive oil to the various awards handed out by international committees.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Olive oil that is too cheap
When olive oil is too cheap I usually suspect that there are one of two things going on. First, I imagine the consumer is getting a raw deal. Usually cheap oil means that quality is compromised and what you think you are buying is not really what is in the bottle. Second, perhaps the producers are being forced to sell at a rate that is lower than their production cost. This sometimes happens when big olive oil companies get involved and monopolise international markets. I personally see this as the death of small-scale olive oil production in the Mediterranean.
If you are buying very inexpensive olive oil, you should expect to get what you pay for, which is usually not much. I am aware that different types of cooking require different types of oil; however, there is really no way I would ever consume 'lampante' or 'olive oil' grade. In fact, many consider these grades of olive oil unfit for human consumption. When the Romans said "caveat emptor" I think they were talking about buying olive oil. What can you do to ensure you are buying quality oil? First of all, read the label carefully and look for signs of fraud. Check that your oil is extra virgin (if that is what you are after), that it has a specific and identifiable origin and there should be a 'best by' date. Although these indications are a start they do not always ensure a high-quality product. I would even suggest checking on the Internet to find out more about the producer and distributor.
That said, I do not think that good quality extra virgin olive oil should be available exclusively to the privileged. There is lots of over-priced olive oil out there on specialty food store shelves. I will have more to say on that topic in the future...
Thursday, June 21, 2007
More thoughts on fair-trade olive oil
It is the consumer's right to know how the product they are purchasing is produced; this goes for olive oil as well. When you buy a bottle of olive oil at the supermarket there is little indication on the bottle or the shelf of how the oil was produced or about who did all the work to turn olives into oil. Making olive oil is a year-long agricultural process that requires the attention of farmers, extra labour for harvesting and pruning as well as the people working in the mill.
Although there are few issues around fair trade in Italy it is something that needs to be considered nonetheless. Are farms getting their fair share of the profits? This is particularly important for small-scale farmers who have a hard time competing in the global market. When my mother and I started to import olive oil from Italy we wanted to make sure we were giving back to local communities and encouraging the continuation of agricultural practices and traditions.
Buying direct from the producer and selling direct to the client is one way in which we keep the cost of our oil reasonable. However, quality comes from careful labour, passion and expertise, which have their price. Generally these are not values espoused by industrial production.
As you may know, I am not a big fan of certifications and although Amelia Oil may not be certified fair trade, we are proud to be a part of sustainable, local agriculture in Italy.