In the Catalan Palestine, Les Garrigues, people are proud to tell you that their extra virgin olive oil, extracted from the supreme arbequina olive, furnishes the Nobel Prize reception. Some historians say that Phoenician merchants introduced the liquid gold to Catalonia; others assert that the Ancient Greeks first carried the golden elixir in their beautiful amphoras to our Mediterranean coast. Regardless, the Lord of Arbeca brought the arbequina olive tree, which produces one of the very best olive oils in the world, back to Catalonia from Palestine in the 18th century.
The fruity quality of arbequina extra virgin olive oil
The 2.500 inhabitants of the small town of Arbeca are totally devoted to the olive orchards that shape the peaceful landscape. Traditionally, they have planted almond trees in the olive orchards, which gives their heirloom arbequina oil a unique slight almond-like aroma. It is perfect for cooking fish, but for cooking any food actually, and delicious when you eat it raw in salads or on a slice of bread as we do. Les Garrigues and Siurana are the two Catalan designations of origin producing a superior extra virgin olive oil mainly from the arbequina olive.
The Siurana designation of origin produces the sweetest arbequina oil, particularly along the coastland. This fruity oil is optimal for seasoning salads, picadas and sauces, cooking meats, the emblematic bread, tomato and oil, soups, or vegetable dishes. The third protected oil is the Terra Alta, further south, to the Ebre (Ebro) River. It grows mainly the empeltre olive, which makes delicately transparent sweet oils that evoke the fragrance of nuts. It is the less known of the three.
Wherever you live, you can taste the best olive oil too
The delicacy and purity of those designations of origin are slowly entering the gourmet international scene: the United States, Australia, and even Japan, for sushi seasoning. Italy’s is no longer the only extra virgin olive oil on offer in American gourmet and specialty shops.
Olive tree for olive oil
Eating bread and oil used to be synomym of poverty, particularly if you didn’t top it with ham or cheese ham. Now it means that you know what’s good for you. In the smallest Balearic island of Formentera at least one baker never interrupted the ingrained tradition of selling a delicious fresh roll literally bathed in olive oil. When visit the island love to go through the morning’s ritual.
Now, in exclusive restaurants of the Mediterranean basin and the United States oil lists compete side by side with wine lists for guest attention. You can find extra virgin olive oils of the Siurana and Les Garrigues designations of origin in stylish gourmet shops like Lorenzo’s, Balducci, Sutton Place Gourmet.