If you are an olive oil fan this is your place, virgin extra olive oil is the best to consume for its benefits, I will tell you all about the benefits of extra virgin olive oil as a good Mediterranean person that I am. But first, let me show you how we enjoyed a breakfast among a century old olive trees in Riudecanyes, the Baronia d'Escornalbou area. The olive oil is a symbol of the Mediterranean gastronomy as well as the culture, it is very natural for us to use olive oil everywhere in our dishes.
It is quite difficult to find olive trees that are a century years old, those normally have very big branches and even natural entrances that have opened in time to get inside the tree. We were privileged to be able to enjoy breakfast surrounded by those olive trees, and savour delish aberquina olives right from the olive trees around , of course extra virgin olive oil with toasted bread rubbed with tomato -typical Catalan- and garlic and sausages -called botifarra- and herring - called arengades- as the strongest ingredients.
One thing worth mentioning that can't be missed in a brunch like this is in Catalonia is the "porró", it is a wine glass jar with a long tapered drinking spout. There is a whole technique behind it to drink from it as you need to raise your arm with the porró on it and pour the wine directly to your mouth at least from 30cm apart so you can control the trajectory of the liquid. (you see it below in the picture on top on your left-hand side).
Next to the porró below is the olive oil of the area, called Olive oil "Castell d'Escornalbou". The virgin extra olive oil from the area is made with the Aberquina olive, which has the Siurana Protected Designation of Origin, is one of most known products in the area. It is recognised nationally and internationally for its intense flavour and fruity flavour.
The oil made in Riudecanyes cooperative has its own brand called Oil Castle d'Escornalbou. The process of harvesting the olives is purely manual due to a difficult access with modern agriculture machines into the mountains where the olives are.
Olive oil tasting in the Cooperative
It was the first time I did an extra virgin olive oil tasting, and it was very interesting since this is not a wine tasting the quantity of oil is really little and you do it in an obscure blueish cup so you cannot see the colour and are the most objective possible.
For oil tasting the color is not important as the color of oil changes with time, light etc...And depending on the olive variety the color would be lighter or darker and the quality of oil can be as good and it is not dependent on the color.
If you want to enjoy an olive oil tasting class, contact them
The extra virgin olive oil
The extra virgin olive oil is extracted from the olives and is processed through nonchemical processes obtaining a great quality of olive oil. The extra virgin olive oil health benefits are numerous but among them, it provides healthy fat, the fatty acids, has a great antioxidant power, it contains vitamin E, phenols, and carotenes.
The olive oils that go through a chemical process, they get rid of the sourness so they are able to be consumed but on the process, they also loose valuable ingredients such as vitamins and phenols. The refined olive oils, the ones who go through a chemical process, have less attributes than the virgin extra olive oil. Watch out for those, as sometimes they are named and renamed to make consumers believe they are extra virgin but they actually aren't, so look for the ingredients and if there is a mix of different oils and it went through a chemical process you know it is not the extra virgin for sure.
Recent studies have shown that people that follow a Mediterranean diet and consume olive oil often, live longer. This is due to the olive oil fighting against heart illnesses, obesity, diabetes and also protects against some type of cancer.
Of course to be healthy, olive oil needs to be consumed in moderate amounts, the recommended amount daily is between 3 to 4 tablespoons a day. The consume of olive oil also needs to be hand and hand with a healthy diet rich in fruit, cereals, legumes, veggies and physical activity.
Olive oil is not only good for your health and on the inside but also as a beauty product, it is an excellent eye makeup remover, it is used as hair treatment since ancient Egyptian times, you just need to apply it warm into the end of the hair and scalp, leave it for 20 minutes and rinse thoroughly with water. I am sure we all have our own tricks with olive oil, it is such a versatile product that can be used for a wide variety of applications.
Spanish Olive oil brands
I want to give you some direction on what Spanish olive oil you should buy. There are multiple brands of olive oil, but you need to think about what variety of olive you like the most for olive oil and the usage as well. It is not the same to buy an oil for salads than for cooking, or other uses, the flavour, the properties and sourness or bitterness are essential for a good match between the oil and the product you match it with.
My favorite olive oil the varieties are: Picual and Arbequina. There are many more, but these olives have a concentrated flavour and are my choices, the more you know about olives and oil the better to choose exactly the type of oil that goes with you.
Arbequina is original from Arbeca, a little town in Catalonia, the olives are quiet small at 1.9 grams per olive, but they are very well known for the high quality and high production of oil from these tiny olives. The most known Protected Denomination of Origin of this variety are Siurana and les Garrigues. This oil is best uncooked, perfect for salads, vegetables fresh and cooked and also fish. Brands: Mestral, Castell d'Escornalbou and Torclum
Picual is the most important variety in Spain, it accounts for 50% of the production in Spain. This oil is best used in frying although it is good as well for salads and gazpacho. Brands: Oro del Desierto.
Special mention to Oli de Pau and Memoriae an amazing extra virgin olive oil from l'Empordà in Catalonia that has varieties of the area: mainly agudell. I tried Memoriae for the first time in my experience in Hostal Spa Empúries.
Disclaimer: this activity was provided by Muntanyum organization to discover Baronia d'Escornalbou area in Catalonia. As always the opinion is my own.