Istrian extra Virgin Olive Oils are... one of the best in the World
Did you know that one of the oldest Mediterranean olive trees grows in Istrian national park Brijuni? It is 1.600 years old and still produces this precious plant.
Did you know that one of the oldest Mediterranean olive trees grows in Istrian national park Brijuni? It is 1.600 years old and still produces this precious plant. Are you familiar with the fact that the number of Istrian fruitful olive trees counts more than one million? One million and 70 thousand, to be precise. Or that olive is a fruit? Did you know that the largest number of olive growers from the world's No1 olive oil guide come from Istria? And that Istrian olive oil is the best olive oil from Croatia? No? I didn't either, up until recently.
A few years back I went to a tour guide „school“and, naturally, went on several field trips. One of our destinations was a cellar of a well-known and awarded olive oil manufacturer. A very friendly couple, a husband and wife, made us feel very welcome. I never cared much for farming cultures, but this informal lecture made my focus turn towards this one.
Here is what I've learned and what is worth knowing about extra virgin olive oils and Istrian olive making.
Olive oil is a high- quality nutrient. Many of us use olive oil as an every-day ingredient and it became especially popular these last few decades. This is not random, lots of researches show that extra virgin olive oil is highly beneficial for health. Available sources say it soothes various stomach discomforts and prevents potential serious illnesses. I am not a medical worker, nor am I an expert in nutrition, so I dare not speak of the therapeutic properties. But I know that Istrian people live very long, like above 90 years. Maybe there is a matter of small amount of stress, maybe a good climate, balanced food, lots of fish, a little home- made wine, olive oils, maybe all mixed together? It doesn’t hurt trying anyways :)
As far as my knowledge goes in this subject, extra virgin olive oils are best unheated. It is logical – wouldn't it be a waste to evaporate all those good ingredients from an expensive bottle? Those lower grades of olive oils can be used for cooking and frying, but the rule is never to heat them to the point of smoking. On these pages you will find several original Istrian recipes containing olive oils as an ingredient of a widely known Mediterranean cuisine. Olive oil is also a common ingredient in service of beauty used in cosmetic industry and I know lots of people who use it to get a nice and balanced tan.
A world- famous guide for extra virgin olive oils Flos Olei has placed 50 Istrian olive oil makers on their prestigious list amongst 500 best producers in the world. Consequently, this means that ten percent of the world's best olive oil comes from Istria. Now, this is a truly amazing fact!
Istria has an attraction for „foodies“ – it is called Olive Oil Roads (in Croatian: Ceste maslinova ulja). Basically, Istrian Tourist Board realized that lots of visitors that come to Istria are highly interested in Istrian gastronomy, olive oils in particular, so they organized small manufacturers in order to make their offer not only agricultural, but also educational. They invite you to their tasting rooms or cellars where they share their knowledge regarding this culture while offering their oils, products, wine. Some of them organize a guided trip to their olive groves.
See? Istria isn't only sea&sun. There is a lot to do even when it’s cold (and it’s actually pretty warm here most of the time). I recommend visiting Vodnjan in the second half of November when the international Days of Olive Oil take place. You'll get a chance to try all of the Istrian oils that are currently on the market and buy the best there is. At a very good price, by the way. See you there!