I truly believe to be passionate about something you need to have a real understanding about what it is you are serving. New season olive oil is no exception so I took 2 of our team to Capezzana in Tuscany to experience the harvesting and pressing first hand.
On arrival we checked into Capezzana La Fattoria an 8 bedroomed wing of the estate mansion, no luxuries just pure tuscan rusticness, but beautiful all the same. We joined Patrizi in the kitchen for a few tuscan cooking lessons, during which we helped cook for Ruth Rogers and her River Café staff. We helped to make a traditional regional dish Bollito Misto, boiled veal and calves tongue with olive oil mash, chick peas and olive oil mash. This dish was all about the quality of the oil.
We were also shown farinata which is a polenta thickened soup made with the bollito stock and cavalo nero drizzled with yes you guessed it, olive oil.
We were also shown crostini with beans and cavalo nero. For desert was tarte de la nona.
We then joined River Café for an olive oil tasting and the lunch we had just prepared.
In the evening we were invited for a personal tour of the estate and cellars.
We started with the Capezzana oil production, a blend of local olives are tipped into a large opening on the outside of the building and someone with a paddle helps them on their way. They enter the building and are washed and go through various machinery ending up with a bright green trickle at the other end (we were having an in-depth explanation but to be hones it was so noisy in there so we just nodded politely without taking everything in).
I will always remember the smell of fresh pressed olives in that room, heavenly!!!
They only get 5 bottles of olive oil per tree, the olive pickers also look after the trees throughout the year so they are the early warning system if there are any problems. The oil is stored in huge glass lined terracotta pots. The waste is then sold on and someone else presses it to extract what is left. I kept seeing locals turn up with urns and bottles, they are apparently the workers who are paid some of their salary in oil, they can then sell it on or use it themselves.
We continued our tour to the historic cellars and the special sweet wine Vinsanto cellar where we saw the grapes lying on wooden shelves air drying.
Finally, we sat down for another 5 course meal, including penne with cavalo nero, roast pork with grapes and crostini with beans and cabbage.
Next day kitchen again, we made some pasta, tiramisu and a real tuscan vegetable soup with a poached egg. So simple, but so good. Like the tagliatelle with lemon and parsley, so good because the lemons were picked 5 minutes before being used, what a difference that makes.
Then with a very heavy heart (mainly because of all the eating and drinking) it was time to head back. It was my first taste of Tuscany but I will definitely be back for seconds.
Look out for our new Tuscan dishes at Angel and Salthouse Eateries…….
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