Almost a year ago we went to Spain in search of a superb Extra Virgin Olive oil, with the highest health benefits, one that when tasted it would tell the story of the land, the olives and the care and dedication by the crafter’s hand. Everyone recommended to search for farms in the South of Spain and we contacted many but a subtle voice in my heart said to reach out beyond the famous southern region. For months no one called back until one day I get an email from this Olive Farm from Toledo, in the region of Castilla-La Mancha. I almost ignored it but the email had “corazon” it had some heart, it was so welcoming and grateful for our interest. Castilla is where my family is from so I had a sweet spot for this region even though my reason said the contrary.
Olive oil is precious in my family my father always told me stories how the olive oil was sold in his town near Avila, an olive farmer would come door to door telling stories of his land, his olive varietals and the care and love he put into making this liquid gold. My family was very interested in the way he pressed the juice of the olives without disturbing its health properties and pressing it within hours of harvesting them Olive oil was used to cure many ailments it had to be of highest quality. My father remembers a particular olive oil man that always dressed up in good fashion, clean hands and neatly combed hair, he presented the olive oil in these beautifully shaped bota de cuero “leather boot” it was so beautifully shaped that it looked like a work of art in their kitchen. He became our Olive Oil guy and part of the familia. Besides his stories the flavor of his oil was complex and he always said: if the olive oil made you cough is a good one, it is alive, olive oil is the original cold- pressed juice. The spicier the Olive oils and flavor complexity the better and most healthy for you. In Spain almost every dish is crowned or drizzled with Olive Oil and salt to finish, the olive oil flavor is in the fabric of flavors and aromas of Spanish cuisine.
We arrived at the farm and were taken on an extensive tour of the Farm, the Mill, and then the tasting. Nestled in the hills east of Toledo surrounded by Carpio River allows for excellent soil es and a great bio diversity which enhance the quality of the of the trees, and olives they produce, allowing very delicate oils to be obtained. Casas de Hualdo is a hidden gem making incredible Extra Virgin Olive Oil respecting and honoring the land’s rhythm optimized by state- of- the- art technology.
The climate is harsh, with cold winters and dry and very hot summers, thereby promoting the natural control of pests and diseases, olive trees like a good beating they are resilient that is why they have been around for millions of years .
With the arrival of autumn the temperatures fall, though without freezing, ensuring optimum conditions at harvesting time. The olive, gathered directly from the tree, is taken immediately to THE OLIVE MILL to avoid its deterioration.
The olives, picked directly from the trees, get to the oil mill still alive, where they are cared for and grinded instantly.
This is one of the things captured our hearts, the care they place into every step of the process, we fell in love with the love they put into making this precious liquid gold.
They constantly track the ripening process, with the help of state of the art tracking system, then they we decide when the best time to harvest different varietals and species of olive tree making sure they are at their peak allowing them to obtain much more fragrant and expressive oils, and with the highest health benefits.
The Oil Mill
All of the processes, from the reception yard to the bottling, feature the latest technology and have been carefully designed to extract the best from the fruit. The location of the oil mill, by the crops, is a guarantee that the olives will reach the milling process alive. To prevent damage, the olives are processed within six hours of the recollection. During the extraction process the temperature is kept under 25ºC in order to prevent the loss of the most volatile components and aromas.
Seeking a balance
This Farm is known for their mono varietals this is the kind of oil made with just one variety of olive. One of the advantages of this kind of oil is that it has a clean, well-defined flavor, meaning that the olives and the crafting of the oil must be impeccable.
They have an oil guru or master tastes which is the person in charge of helping the mill master to extol the virtues of the oil.
Featuring significant antioxidant properties while with a marked aroma and flavor to conquer the palate of the consumers.
After tasting it we knew we had to partner with them and bring these Extra Virgin Olive Oils to you. We selected 2 of our favorite favorite flavor and started exploring ways of using them with local California ingredients and cuisine.
In short here is what we loved:
The Location of the farm has extremely high quality soil, the river and the biodiversity enriches its soil and produces better olives.
The right balance of technology and respect and reverence to nature without rushing and in acceptance of what mother earth gives them.
The monitoring systems on each tree, making sure they are well cared and nourished
Olives are picked at their peak and pressed almost immediately once harvested. They have the mill or “Almazara” in the farm it is not sent anywhere to pressing mills all processed in house
All their Olive Oil it is bottled at the farm.
The people that run Casas De Hualdo captivated us, their passion for their craft, for the land, the olive trees, and understanding that their reason of being is to provide excellence crafting the best olive Oil Spain has ever seen. Enjoy these recipes for this month of September all made with this precious Olive Oil. Check out our Cornicabra and Picual Olive oil at our shop: http://www.drianafoods.com/shop/picual-extravirgin-700ml