There isn’t a home or professional kitchen in Spain that doesn’t stock olive oil. It is ubiquitous, and its popularity is similar to the French passion for butter. We adore this unctuous golden liquid!
One of the best ways to experience Spanish olive oil is at breakfast. While a sweet pastry is still appreciated, most of us are unconditionally loyal to “Pan, Aceite y Jamón”. Fresh bread, olive oil and cured ham is my favourite way to start the day; and while I occasionally substitute jamón with cheese, tuna or an omelette, bread and olive oil are irreplaceable. And believe me, Andalucia is where olive oil enjoys the highest status: even the smallest, least fashionable bar serves up a fantastic olive oil.
Spanish olive oil production isn’t limited to large swathes of flat landscapes, as you might imagine. In the Sierra de Cadiz, barely 45 minutes away from where I live, the landscape is very different, with rolling hills. This area only represents 2% of the total production, but the olives are fantastic! Because of the steep slopes, only mules and muleteers can access the olive groves. Once picked, the olives are placed into one-bushel sacks (50 kilograms), and loaded onto the mule. Each mule can carry up to three bushels when trekking down the hill to the mill.
If you’re keen for slightly spicy, fruity and unctuous olive oil, this is a good option.
These six tips are wonderful ways to ensure you’re getting the best olive oil possible
Use it liberally, but don’t forget that olive oil has a fat content and should be consumed in moderation. It’s not a question of quantity, but quality – a small amount of high-quality olive oil is enough to experience its aroma and delight your palate. As it so happens, I’m currently cleaning some bullet tuna (also known as frigate mackerel), a delicate blue fish from the tuna family and common in Andalucia. I’ll boil them in salt water for about ten minutes, drain, and then dip each piece in some extra virgin olive oil garnished with black pepper, laurel and thyme. After a 24-hour marinade in the fridge, we’ll enjoy them, just as they are, with a tall glass of vermouth!
In case you have any questions regarding cooking and preparation methods, please don’t hesitate to ask.
If you can read Spanish, I suggest you to look at this old post to learn about the entire EVOO production process, and this other one to find out how an olive oil tasting is carried out, along with the various pairing possibilities depending on the type of olive.