Friday, October 21, 2011

Ahh L'Olio Nuovo - New Olive Oil Harvest Tuscany

This is one of the perks of living in Tuscany. You not only get to try new olive oil almost immediately after olives are picked but you get a chance to see olive oil made...from Harvest to Hand.

This morning I was extremely fortunate enough to visit my friend's olive mill in Cetona Siena. The Frantoio Fattoria del Biancheto is one of the only olive mills that uses the latest technology to produce the highest quality olive oil. From start to finish I was able to see and SMELL this glorious emerald green olive oil being made.

The farmers present and the owner, Fanny Nigi, explained to me why this olive oil is so good. Olives are picked early and are immediately processed on site. The olive oil I was looking at this morning was from olives picked the evening prior. This is rare but makes for an extremely high quality olive oil with the highest amount of polyphenols (antioxidants). Olive oil is pure and nothing is added to it.

Here are the steps.  Olives are hand picked night prior to making oil and placed in bins.

Next the olives are cleaned of leaves and any external substance and washed.

The now clean olives are sent into a machine where the grinding takes place and the nuts are expelled along with any other residual material. At this stage, the olives become an olive paste and resemble olive patè.

After this step, finally the paste is further worked and the outcome is the fabulous emerald green extra virgin olive oil we all know and love.

Oil is then stored in special stainless steel vats which are temperature controlled and oxygen controlled. The oil is bottled directly from the stainless steel containers.

The taste? This year's Harvest is robust and flavorful.  The color is bright green.  I was advised today to try it on rice, potatoes and of course on bruschetta. I just did and it was wonderful. Amazing and wonderful:  I just tasted olive oil from olives picked yesterday. Ahhh grazie!!!

Note:pictures courtesy of Frantoio Fattoria del Biancheto - Cetona -Siena

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Visiting Bagno San Filippo, Bagno Vignoni, Monte Amiata

If you have limited time and can only go to Valdorcia, please take the time for a full day trip to see Bagno San Filippo, Bagno Vignoni, and Monte Amiata.

Sorry, this time no pictures. I will make sure to get some next time. However you can (we did) go to Monte Amiata in the morning, climb by foot all the way to the top called "La Vetta" to the gigantic black iron cross and then make your way down to the grassy area where you can take in some sun and eat at a fantastic trattoria called "Vetta".  There are three restaurants but I highly recommend this one.  It is the one at the bottom of the hill. Make sure you order the pici pasta (home made), vitello and porcini mushrooms. Top it off with homemade crostata pie and an espresso. Ah don't forget the house wine. All for a delicious very affordable price.

Next drive down to Bagni San Filippo, natural sulfur thermal pools. You will need a bathing suit, towels, and beach shoes. You can only bathe in the first or last pools (the first is cold but the last is the warmest). This is worth the trip.

After San Filippo, you must go to Bagno Vignoni. This is such a cute town and has original Roman baths (you cannot bathe here but can dip your feet in!). The town is full of small, quaint boutiques and to-die-for trattorias. The center is the original Roman pool and definitely worth the visit.

Have fun and yes, next time pictures!!