Olive Oil Tasting

IMG_4637

Cold pressed olive oil. Remember when you hunted it down? Looked frantically to get it for that recipe! Smugly nodded, yes it is cold pressed. Well …it seems we were all sold a pup. Apparently, according to good authority, it was a method last used by the then Arabs in 711. Yes that’s right the Gregorian 8th century.

My good authority is the owner, David Gallarado of D.Olivia, a beautiful specialist olive oil shop in Marbella town. As I perch on a stool with an array of dishes with oil in front of me, I feel slightly cheated. It isn’t wine! Mind you given it was 11am on a Saturday morning this was probably a good thing. My fellow olive oil tasters probably thought the same.

IMG_4621

 

Not knowing what to expect, David cleverly asked questions to engage us in his talk on olive oil. The most surprising piece of information is the fact Spain is the biggest producer of olive oil. A staggering 55% of production compared to the 9% produced by Italy. Interestingly Italy is the major purchaser of Spain’s olive oil. Suddenly, it dawned on me, like the cold press scam, the marketing of olive oil is more dynamic than our real understanding or appreciation of it.

The next known fact to be firmly dispelled is the notion that there is any issue when cooking with olive oil. A view supported by this article here from the Huffington Post. As David explained, olive oil is juice extracted from the olive. It is very stable, has good properties and can be used 4 to 5 times when cooking with it. No need to pour excess down the sink instead put it in to a jar or container to reuse. By now, I’m feeling fully equipped to be an olive oil expert, an excellent recycler and a champion supporter of the water companies.

Then we really get down to the business of grading detail and taste. Whilst the grading of olive oil is straightforward; there are three qualities of olive oil: extra virgin, virgin and olive oil. Extra virgin is the best grade due to an acidity level under 0.8 degrees. This means there is the minimum level of fruitiness in this grade of oil. Virgin falls in between 0.8 to 2 degrees implying it is not so bad in taste that it require refining; but plain old olive oil is the stuff that is over 2 degrees and is not allowed for consumption, unless it is refined. It then gets about 15% of virgin olive oil combined with it to give it some colour and smell.

IMG_4635

Back to the tasting of the oils in front of us.  In this respect our novice approach is obvious, ‘fruity’ is our best offering on anything when asked to describe the taste. Which fruit? Um, pretty stumped. However, the nose and the palate begins to improve and before you know it we are tasting some olive oils to die for and can tell which vegetables and fruit might have influence the taste or our nose. After the hard core method of sipping and slurping, the mood is relaxed with bread. The olive oil and bread combination hits the divine button!

IMG_4624

Tasting olive oil is a wonderful way to engage with something probably taken for granted, and I can now make wiser choices, in my selection of oils, when food shopping. Afterwards we enjoyed browsing the shop which has so many delightful little touches and great products to buy. D.Olivia is an incredible find in Marbella and well worth a visit. It was thanks to good local knowledge that it was discovered and it is a reminder to always get recommendations when staying at a good hotel.

IMG_4627IMG_4641

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Battrick was travelling with Olivia Posca and Ben Burgess, Travel Counsellors and were guests at Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa Marbella. The olive oil tasting at D.Olivia was organised by the now retired Sales Director Manuel Jimenez.

Continue Reading

Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa Marbella

IMG_4532

Set back from the beach, the Puente Romano resort is equidistance (for walking) between Puerto Banus and Marbella town. Its location is a gem. The hotel offers the perfect blend of tranquillity and isolation to bask in, with the option to step into the nightlife or go sightseeing. If you are looking for escape and relaxation you can get it by basking in the setting’s replicated architecture of an Andalusian village. It is an unusual feast of loveliness, sanitised in all its glory (the cleanliness is a marvel). The ideal option for those wanting a stress free, indulgent, no need to move week away.

IMG_4450

 

The ease of having a door to door airport to hotel pick up will allow you to dispense with car hire immediately, and give you a chance to change your mind set to which book to reach for next to the sun lounger. The start to the day at breakfast is a pleasurable affair that is worthy of the hotels five star rating alone. In fact the dining options are varied and comprehensive. With the added bonus of a truly impressive two star Michelin restaurant from chef Dani Garćia. A fairy tale of a dining setting, with its ambient intimacy of greenery and low lighting coupled with the vista of an open kitchen to view and explore. Dani Garćia offers both a tasting menu and à la carte. The addition of a gluten free café Celicioso is a bonus for coeliac or people choosing to go gluten free. However it may not be helpful to pop into the gorgeous Les Deux if you are watching your waistline!

IMG_4476

Dani Garćia restuarant

The ability to sample a variety of eating options only adds to the relaxation of the location because it allows you to bask in your surrounds. This is the perfect opportunity to utilise your location if, recharging your wellbeing and resetting the calm button, is a key factor of your holiday. It’s likely then the most stressful option could be booking a spa treatment. The next most taxing moment might be choosing between pool or beach side for lounging. The hotel has three pools to choose from with an additional children’s pool. The beach facilities are set across from the promenade, which stretches the length of the areas coastline, seventeen kilometres in total along the Costa del Sol. Towels are provided for the beds in a specific area, although it is a public beach. If it is a clear day there is an incredible view of the tip of Andalucía and Gibraltar with the added sight of the distance haze of Morocco, which is only eight nautical miles across from the strait of Gibraltar.

 

IMG_4539

The combination of location and weather add to the significant factor of Puente Romano being a fabulous destination for the discerning traveller. As much as it offers relaxation, the hotel facilities are a boon for families with the hotel’s free Kids Club for guests. It is an excellent location for tennis players, with its own tennis club developed by tennis legend Bjorn Borg, and perfectly placed for enjoying golf. The hotel also offers complimentary yoga lessons with a vey talented Kundalini yoga teacher, Natalia.

IMG_4557

With a wide selection of rooms from double, suites, villas and specific family rooms there is plenty to delight for a good nights sleep at the Puente Romano Beach Resort.

 

[Kate Battrick was a guest at the Puente Romano Beach & Spa Resort in April 2016. Staying in a Deluxe Junior Suite, eating at the Sea Grill restaurant and participating in complimentary yoga lessons.]

Continue Reading