Showing posts with label Olive Oil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olive Oil. Show all posts

Monday, January 7, 2019

Heart of Spain. In the heart of East Cork

Heart of Spain
In the heart of East Cork

You’ll find the Heart of Spain at the very back of the Fota Retail Park (by Cobh cross). And by the Heart of Spain, Alejandro and his friends, mean Castilla y Leon, a big region in the North-West of the country. Speaking of Castilla y Leon, Lonely Planet says “as with most of Spain, food here is an agreeable obsession, promising the country's best jamón (cured ham), roast lamb and suckling pig.”

No roast lamb in Cork but they do have expressions of the other two. The Heart of Spain is the quality seal for Castilla y Leon´s finest food , has a special place amongst those products that bear the name, tradition and history of the farmers that have produced the ingredients they are made with. The eye-catching yellow heart seal certifies total traceability from origin, guaranteeing professionals and consumers alike clearly differentiated quality.

Just to be clear, you won’t be getting food or drink here from all over Spain, just from this region and that yellow seal is stamped with Tierra de Sabor, meaning Castilla y Leon is  “a land of flavour”.

Take the cured meats for example. Their supplier, Chacinerías Diaz, manages the entire manufacturing process from breeding and raising their own livestock to producing their own fodder, slaughterhouse and production plant.

You’ll find quite a display of sheeps cheese here for which Pago Los Vivales has been nominated twice at the World Cheese Awards between 2017 & 2018. You can get it at 6 months, 12 months (Reserva) and 18 months (Gran Reserva).

Lots of patés here also, including Foie Gras, made by three French brothers who returned to their parents’ Spanish village in the summer of 1989. Not just duck. They also sell pork paté and Ostrich (the one I bought).
This came in handy over the Christmas.

Quite a selection of jams and mermeladas too including Quince Jelly, Tomato Jelly, and a Fig jam that caught my eye. If you call there around lunch-time (from 1.00 to 3.00pm) on Saturdays, you won’t be buying blind. They serve up some lovely tapas, using the cheese and the various spreads. By the way, if you cannot make it to the store, they do have an on-line ordering facility.

And they have a couple of bottles of wine open as well every Saturday, usually one red and one white. The wines are DO Rueda & Ribera del Duero and produced by Emina, based in Valladolid.  Got myself a 50cl bottle of their Moscatel - also handy over the Christmas!

And where there’s wine, there’s usually olive oil. And yes, they have Extra Virgin Olive Oil and also Balsamic Vinegar of various flavours. 

No huge selection of anything - this is not a supermarket. More like a farmers market. If you have a taste for the real food of Spain, then this is worth a call. And while you are there, don’t forget that, a hundred meters away, the fantastic Bakestone Pantry has well over one hundred Irish artisan products for sale. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Taste of the Week: Nash 19 Olive Oil.

Taste of the Week: Italian Olive Oil at Nash 19

On the lookout for a good Olive Oil? Then check out this excellent Italian Single Farm Extra Virgin Olive Oil, sourced by Country Choice in Nenagh and available at Nash 19 in Prince's Street for €11.95. 

Once, in Tuscany, a wine and olive oil producer told me the best way to make olive oil is to immediately cold press the just picked olives. He was scathing about the big companies who dragged in olives from all over the Med and were still able to claim that their oil was on a par with his. The longer the olives are hanging around (or in transport) the more the acid is a factor. Some big producers filter out the acid but also much of the goodness.

Be careful where you buy your oil and, once you have found a good source, stick with it. This oil, in the familiar gold wrapper, is a regular on the tables in Nash 19 and is our Taste of the Week.

Friday, October 19, 2012

New Season’s Olive Oil & Wines of Tuscany

New Season’s Olive Oil & Wines of Tuscany

 with iconic Italian producers

Thursday 8th November 2012, 7pm, at The Grain Store, Ballymaloe

Enjoy a ‘Taste of Tuscany’ in County Cork, at The Grain Store, Ballymaloe, with the following producers, in association with Liberty Wines.

Beatrice Contini Bonacossi, from Capezzana, Carmignano, Tuscany

Federico Giuntini, Selvapiana, Chianti Rufina

Federico Manetti, Fontodi, Chianti Classico

and Italian expert, David Gleave, Master of Wine, Liberty Wines

Thursday 8th November, 7pm, €24. Advance booking advised.

Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co. Cork

Tel:             021 4652531

More details here

**** Also a reminder that the Sherry event that was postponed (the Sherry event is not taking place 25th October due to unforeseen circumstances) will be rescheduled for early 2013 – dates to follow****

Wednesday, November 9, 2011



Three of Tuscany’s makers featured at an Olive Oil Master class in Ballymaloe Cookery School last Wednesday (9/11/11). Capezzana were represented by Beatrice Contini Bonacossi, Federico Giuntini Masseti was there for Fattoria Selvapiana while Liberty Wines’ David Gleave MW stood in for Giovanni Manetti of Fontodi.

Tuscany is more or less on the northern edge of the kind of climate in which the Olive tree grows and so is very susceptible to changes in the weather, especially the frost which has been known to more or less wipe out the olive rows.

Federico remembered the one in 1985 as a disaster. “The trees had be severely pruned to ground level and it took us all of ten years to get a good crop again.” There were a number of difficulties this year mainly due to the very cold weather in December and this has resulted in an oil that isn’t as green and spicy as normal.

Still, the arrival of the new season’s oils in Tuscany is a big event, according to Beatrice: “It is like a fete and the restaurants mark it by putting on special menus. It is very important for Tuscan cuisine and we always cook with good oil.”

We started our tasting with the multi-varietal Capezzana, harvested a little earlier than usual. Like the others, this was quite a bright green in colour, soft and fruity with a light spice and great delicacy, perfect for drizzling over freshly baked bread and using in dressing for salads.

Just two varietals in the Fontodi, the Frantoio accounting for 80%. Another lovely oil for salads or soups or for drizzling over pastas and salads. David Gleave remarked again that it wasn't quite as spicy as usual, lacking a little of what he termed austerity. I think most of us were maybe relieved that it wasn't as spicy as normal!

The Selvapiana was also neither as green nor as spicy as usual and, according to Federico, was part of a small crop after two bad winters in a row. But it was a lovely viscous liquid with enough of a spicy finish and he particularly recommended having it on toasted bread.

The lunch dishes that followed our “lessons” were a practical and tasty demonstration of the use of Olive Oil in cooking. We started with delicious Pumpkin and Faro Soup with a topping of Parmesan and the Selvapiana oil.

Then onto a light and lovely plateful of Roaringwater Bay scallops with lemon, chilli, coriander and the Capezzana oil. Needless to say, plenty of bread was used with these two dishes.

The main course was Slow Cooked (15 hours) shin of beef with Allegrini, thyme, garlic and black pepper served with braised winter greens and Golden Wonder Fontodi Mash.

Pretty full at that stage but still room for a delightful Raisin, Orange and Walnut biscotti served with a knockout Capezzana Vin Santo, a sweet wine that requires much patience and investment to bring to the table. But well worth the wait!

Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t the only wine on the table as we got to taste samples of Fontodi’s Meriggio 2010 (100% Sauvignon Blanc), Selvapiana’s Chianti Rufina 2009 and their flagship Vigneto Bucerchiale Chianti Rufina Riserva 2007, then the 80% Sangiovese Capezzana Carmignano Villa de Capezzana 2007 (91 points on the Wine Advocate) and next the terrific Fontodi Flaccianello Della Pive 2008 (92 points in the Wine Advocate).

Quite a line-up of wines but the focus during the morning was very much on the oils. And it was hard to believe that just a week ago, the olives were still on the plant in beautiful Tuscany.

The wines and the oils are distributed in Ireland by Liberty Wines who have a new website which you may see here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ballymaloe to showcase Tuscan Wines and Olive Oil

Wines and Olive Oil of Tuscany
Winemaker Dinner  
Wednesday 9th November 2011, 8pm, at Ballymaloe
For the first time to be held in Ireland, launching the new season’s Tuscan Olive Oil, will be the owners of some of Tuscany’s iconic Olive Oil & Wine Estates, in association with Liberty Wines. The Tuscan estates represented here by the owners themselves, on Wednesday 9th November, at Ballymaloe will be:

Bea Contini Bonacossi, from Capezzana, Carmignano

Federico Giuntini, Selvapiana, Rufina

and David Gleave MW, of Liberty Wines will introduce the wines and olive oils of Fontodi
                 Dinner in the evening will be with the owners/winemakers from these Tuscan wine & Olive Oil estates here themselves for a unique evening at Ballymaloe, in association with Liberty Wines, with a specially chosen menu to match some of the finest wines from Tuscany, and the new seasons Olive Oil.

Wine and Olive Oil dinner, 8.00pm, €95
Tel: 021 4652531
Full details also online

Monday, August 23, 2010



Once in Tuscany, a wine and olive  oil producer told us the best way to make olive oil is to immediately cold press the just picked grapes. On his place, it was done in the cool of the night as the Olive Press (pictured) was too hot during the day, which it was. I tried it and you could hardly stand there for a minute.

He was scathing about the big companies who dragged in olives from all over the Med and were still able to claim that oil was on a par with his. The longer the olives are hanging around (or in transport) the more the acid is a factor. Some big producers filter out the acid but also much of the goodness.

We got some of his oil, packed in a special tin for travelling. But it didn't last forever and then you have to go out and buy here.

Choose the oil as you do wine.

That’s the advice from Saveur Magazine in a recent article on Olive Oil, which also lists some interesting figures on Italy production and consumption and exports.

Took them at their word and set up a tasting. Managed to mount a line-up of four at short notice.

One: an Italian, from Karwig Wines in Carrigaline; Farnese Oilo Extra Vergine di Oliva, organic, from the town of Casoli, in the province of Chieti (CH) in the Abruzzo region of Italy. I think this was about 11 euro for 500ml.

Two: a Greek Spray-on Job from KTMAX. Surprised? Me too. But they do have a foodie rack in the shop. This was Odysea Extra Virgin Olive Oil, approved by the vegetarian society. Reduced to €5.99 for 250ml.

Three: A purchase from Aldi. Under their Evoo brand, it is an Extra Virgin but no indication as to country of origin. Three or four euro for 750ml.

Four: A very recent buy from the Ballymaloe Shop (by the house).  This was Emile Noël’s organic Extra Virgin from Noël’s in Pont Saint Esprit in France. Cost €9.20 for 500ml.

It was close at the finish but I gave my casting vote to the Farnese with the French one a whisker behind. The Spray-on was a distant third while the Aldi was an even more distant and best forgotten revolting fourth.

I’m talking here about Olive oil for salads and breads and so on as ordinary Olive Oil will do for cooking in most cases.

To see the Saveur article go to
In 1951, Pont Saint Esprit was the scene of a mass poisoning, heavy stuff.  For that weird almost sci-fi story go to