There are more things to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon in September than curl up under a blanket with a good book. Sure, fika with friends is always welcome, but how about something different for a change?

The English Speaking Community Club decided to do just that. Just before 4:00 when Olivers & Co. closed for business for the day, nine people interested in learning about olive oil showed up at the shop on Sveavšgen. The owner, ?? (Iím going to call her Julie just to tell the story) invited us to join her on a European tour by sampling various oils pressed from a variety of different olives.

As expected, we tasted oils from Italy and France, but there were also oils from Portugal and Greece, which has recently dramatically improved the quality of their olive oil.

We learned that olive oil can come from one kind of olive or be a combination of oils from up to six different kinds of olives. From my own experience at an olive pressing facility in Sicily this past summer, I saw posters of 26 different kinds of olive trees hanging on the wall. The owner said that that was how many different kinds of olives were grown in that region, but he had only 11 varieties in his groves. Olives require the same climate, soil and sunlight as grapes, so olive groves are often found in fields adjacent to vineyards.

There are categories of flavors that include grassy, citrusy and peppery, and we were able to sample each kind. The way to properly taste olive oil is to sip some onto the tongue, then inhale air through the teeth over the tongue. One can taste the dramatic difference among the different flavors by experiencing the oils in this manner.

Another aspect of olive oil is its viscosity, or density. As you know, some oils feel light on the tongue and others feel heavy. What makes a light, fresh-tasting oil is olives that have been picked, not allowed to fall on the ground and bruise, and pressed the same day. In some mass-produced olive oil factories, the olives sit and oxidize, and itís the oxidation that gives them a heavier taste.

In order to preserve the best taste of the olive oil you have at home, you should store it in a dark place and keep a tight-fitting lid on it to help keep it from oxidizing. Use it within six months of opening the bottle. The olive oils sold in dark glass bottles are the best for a reason!

I love olive oil, and if youíre like me, you use it in place of other kinds of spreads and fats. An interesting tidbit I learned was when dressing a salad, pour the vinegar or lemon juice on first, because if you put the olive oil on first, the slickness of the oil will cause the vinegar to just run off the leaves and go to the bottom.

Oliviers & Co., the shop we visited, has over 30 different kinds of oils from around the world. Additionally, they have olive oils that have been flavored with garlic, lemon, chili pepper and mint! I had the opportunity to have a little sample of mint oil with a couple drops of ginger vinegar, and it was to die for!

If youíre looking for something interesting to do, I highly recommend the little olive oil shops called Olivers & Co., located at Sveavagen 106 and Liljeholmstorgets Galleria.

Olive Oil Tasting

By Helen Borland

Around the Olivier - Oliviers & Co.

ESCC

The English Speaking Community Club

This article was printed in the October 2012 issue of The Newsletter.

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