It is that magnificent and very festive time of year again – nets spread below the olive trees to “catch” every stray fallen olive as workmen carefully hand pick the season’s olives. Olive mills open for business to cold press the crop into what locals call “liquid gold”. This weekend is the first of five weekends during which four or five mills in each tiny geographical area of La Strada dell’Olio DOP open their doors to the public during the annual even of Molini Aperti. The rumble of the machinery, the heavenly aroma, the slippery floors are all part of the excitement as local specialties are offered buffet style, each mill attempting to outdo the others by offering food which will show off – in the best possible way – the just-pressed, unadulterated, pure and organic extra virgin olive oil: local heirloom beans, stews, roast sausage, chickpea soup, lentils, fresh mozzarella, crunchy sticks of carrots and local “black” Trevi celery, bruschetta…all drizzled with the “liquid gold”. What a treat!
the utter pleasure of wandering from olive mill to olive mill on blissful country roads
the newly pressed extra virgin olive oil – pure and simple “liquid gold”
ripe olives ready for hand picking
farm women bringing tied towels of their homemade bread to make more bruschette
plate after plate of crusty toasted bread – bruschetta – with the new oil
a no-frills, simply set-up please-serve-yourself-buffet table at one of the mills
roasting homemade pork sausage and toasting slabs of homemade crusty bread on the hot coals of local oak logs
As usual we will attend several of these weekends, going from one mill to another all afternoon. Often the food is served in a room with a welcoming roaring fire where the large slices – actually slabs – of crusty bread are thrown on the hot coals continuously, quickly rubbed with local garlic and “anointed” religiously and generously with the fragrant and amazing oil! Heavenly – a wonderful fall Umbrian tradition.
remarkable medieval stone work along the Strada dell’Olio
so many medieval pievi (country parishes) with intricate stone work dot the Strada dell’Olio
an afternoon on bucolic roads dotted with magnificent medieval art work, visiting the open olive mills and enjoying down-to-earth local food, religiously anointed with Umbria “liquid gold”
There is no doubt that one of the most remarkable things about Umbria is its holding on to cherished traditions. Fall is a magical period with the two main harvests: the grape and olive harvest. These two harvests are still regarded as almost sacred as they mark the end of the agricultural season – the end of an entire year of hard work.
Our Genius Loci olive harvest is just getting underway for our organic Laudemio extra virgin olive oil while the picking for the other oil is still a couple weeks away. The season is later this year, just catching up after the fall rains which have helped ripen and “fill” the olives with a bit more oil. Most of our Olive Oil Lovers’ Club members have placed their 2012 orders. We look forward to sharing our Umbrian”liquid gold” with them!
Stay tuned for photos and information on our imminent Genius Loci harvest!