Friday, May 04, 2007

Turismo del vino at the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver

Last Tuesday night I was invited to talk about my olive oil experience in Italy and Canada for a course at the Italian Cultural Centre. The course is called Turismo del vino and it is being organised by CNIP Puglia to promote commercial relations and tourism between Italy and Canada in the area of food and wine cultural tourism. The class is largely taught in Italian, with instructors flown in from Italy, and the students are Italian citizens who are residents of Canada. At the end of the 800-hour course, they will fly to Puglia, Italy for a 100-hour practicum. Needless to say, I was intrigued and thrilled to participate for an evening.

When I arrived, I was greeted by this week's out-spoken and lively instructor, Betty Mezzina. We tried to devise a plan for our lesson, but I could tell it was going to be a bit of Italian-Canadian improvisation. Betty, a wine and olive oil sommelier from Puglia, went into the finer details of olive oil production and tasting techniques. I talked about my personal experience, the olive oil business and the complicated logistics of importing oil from Italy. I tried to stress the fact that it is all about human relations and building relationships with everyone involved in the process from production to customs brokering. I think Betty did a great job of stressing the diversity of taste and quality that can be found on the shelves.

When we got down to tasting the oil, I was pleased that Amelia Oil was once again the favourite in a blind tasting. The proof really is in the pudding.

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