In Puglia, olives abound, not surprisingly local Puglia olive oil is everywhere, Olive oil is not a luxury. It is in every kitchen in Puglia and appears on the table at just about every meal. We are surrounded by olive groves and there are several olive mills locally. We are spoilt for choice as to where we can buy the best virgin olive oil. One local olive farm makes many other products with their olives and the oil that they produce. They have a great farm shop. Returning visitors to our Puglia holiday villas go back to the olive farm shop time and time again.
40% of the olive oil made in Italy comes from Puglia. There are four “Denominazione di Origine Protetta” (Protected Designation of Origin) olive oil areas in Puglia. A DOP certification means that the products are locally grown and produced. The Collina di Brindisi DOP is local to us.
Many families make their own olive oil. As we chose living close to the sea over having acres of land and olive trees we don’t. We do have one olive tree. It came all the way from the UK with us when we moved here having previously been standing in a pot on our patio there. Coals to Newcastle! Our tree does produce a lot of olives but they are not very good quality. Probably because it is in an area in the garden that is regularly watered. We are lucky enough to get a regular supply of high-quality olive oil from our friends who live in the countryside and have plenty of olive trees. In a blind taste test their oil came out top.
Olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean diet. Here in Southern Puglia olive oil in the local diet probably accounts for the long life of the locals. Often despite a hard lifestyle working the land. Never mind an apple a day, two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil keeps the doctor at bay. Olive oil has a high vitamin A and E content. It has positive effects on cholesterol levels, increasing HDL – the good cholesterol. Extra virgin olive oil also regulates the intestine, a gentle laxative! I haven’t quite got to swallowing two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. But mopping it up with a bit of bread while waiting for a meal to be served makes for a tasty appetiser. Just go easy on the bread! For a healthier treat try sliced sweet potato brushed in oil, sprinkled with herbs and peperoncino. Bake in the oven and then top with chopped tomatoes drizzled with oil. It’s bruschetta without the bread.
Health benefits of consuming olive oil not enough for you? Imagine cycling or walking through the peaceful olive groves. Exercise at your own pace and relax your mind. How about cycling through the olive groves to Torchiarolo, pick up some food items for lunch, have a coffee. Don’t forget the olives and olive oil!
Local farmers’ markets sell olives. You will find them in big bowls on the stall. Ask to taste, “Posso prendere un assagio?” you won’t be disappointed. Look out for the piccante olives, the spicy ones, our favourites.
Guests at our two Puglia villas will find olives, extra virgin olive oil and a salsa piccante made locally at the olive farm in the welcome basket that awaits them. We can provide an escorted visit to the local olive mill farm shop for guests staying in one of our villas. Prefer to go it alone …. leaflets and directions are in your Puglia holiday villa.
Come to Puglia from October into January and you can experience the olive harvest and see the olives being pressed straight from picking.