In January I described the 2015 season as “interesting”; it went on to be “challenging” in some ways, but I am excited about the new season‘s oils.
It’s probably best summarised as the complex weather patterns the trees experienced produced complex flavours in the oil.
We had hot dry and windy conditions through the summer months, followed by an unusually wet and cool autumn, with some early frosts.
Production volumes were well down on last year, but the yield was very good. Our big Barneas, the oldest in the grove, really came into their own. They loved the dry windy conditions, similar to their Israeli origins, and their oil is fruity and complex.
The Tuscan varieties (Frantoio and Leccino) on the other hand struggled in the dry conditions, but the Spanish Manzanillo was not affected as badly.
New season's oils
The various varietal oils are picked and pressed separately to retain their individual characteristics in June, and then they settle in large stainless steel tanks for several weeks.
I then blend them together, with proportions that vary slightly from year to year, to create our signature medium intensity Estate blend. This year, it is just over 60% Barnea and is grassy and savoury. You could describe the oil as green artichokes at this stage.
Perfect Puddings Lunch
Go straight to pudding. With beautiful Martinborough bubbly. How decadent, how divine!
The fabulous ladies lunch team - Mary Biggs (Lavenders Green) and I, have hosted a Visa Wellington On A Plate food festival event for several years. This year, we are shifting to Wellington for a change.
Iconic caterer Ruth Pretty has risen to our challenge to create clever and delicious puddings from our preserved lemons and olive oils. As you would expect for a gorgeous ladies lunch with a difference, they’ll be served with delicious dessert wines. Simply heavenly.
How does Chocolate and Orange Olive Oil Cup Cakes with Pistachio Preserved Lemon Praline sound? Yes, you do get all the recipes to take home too!
Ruth will show guests a quick demo of each pudding (naturally we think they’re perfect, and a pretty clever use of some top ingredients), before our ladies enjoy their lunch.
For fun, our venue is the pop-up Match Wine Bar for this one-off treat. Very clever and stylish, it’s in a large ‘transformer truck’ on Ilott Green, just off Civic Square. Details and bookings on http://www.wellingtononaplate.com/events/perfect-puddings/
For our wonderful Wairarapa supporters, we’re organising a coach to get you there and back easily. Just let me know on
Healthy Oils: Myths busted
With so many myths about fats and oils in a healthy lifestyle, no wonder people are confused. Olive oil producers regularly refute the misconception that you can’t cook with olive oil. You can!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is fine for sautéing and oven baking. Its low Free Fatty Acid levels mean the smoke point is 185-210°C, higher than coconut oil, for example. The depth of flavour it adds to your food is a bonus.
The key is using EVOO, not ‘light’ or ‘pure’. Look for the red EVOO Quality mark on New Zealand oils, which guarantees the oil has been tested and passed international EVOO technical levels.
At Mint in Martinborough recently, I presented some new recipe ideas called Quick, Easy, Spectacular and Healthy , picking up on some of these themes. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org
for the recipes.
For more information, read the June 2015 issue of Healthy Food Guide article on research results about The Mediterranean Diet, revealing 4 tablespoons of EVOO daily is optimum for overall health.
Or this very comprehensive article from an independent nutritionist,
Delicious Winter Dessert
Not as decadent as our Perfect Puddings, but quick and simply delicious. I created this traditional favourite in the Mint demonstration to show the versatility of olive oil. You can whip up this crumble topping in moments in the food processor. I like to serve individual portions in small bowls, to make my guests feel special.
Here I have gone with a classic Apple Crumble, but most fruits work well with the crumble topping.
1 cup flour
½ cup oats
½ cup flaked almonds (optional)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup EV or vanilla infused olive oil
Mix dry ingredients together, add EV or vanilla olive oil gradually to bring the mixture together. I either do this in the food processor or with a fork. Peel, core and slice the apples in a serving bowl that will go in the oven. Sprinkle over the crumble mixture. Bake at 180° for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Serve with a dab of mascarpone or vanilla ice-cream and another drizzle of vanilla infused olive oil.
Please check out our smart new website, launched last week. Taking customer comments on board, we have streamlined, simplified, spruced up and moved into the mobile age on http://www.olivo.co.nz.
We have also made buying online so much easier. We look forward to your feedback, thank you. You might feel tempted to purchase the new season's extra virgin olive oil online.
All the best for winter 2015 as the days lengthen and signs of spring start to emerge around the garden. Stay warm.
Helen, John and Sophie the Beagle.