Carrots & Chickpeas in Chermoula Sauce


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We began National Vegetarian Week with a Nancy Harmon Recipe (see Chocolate Brownies here) and will end with another recipe from the fabulous Virgin Territory.  I tested this out first on my hubby and used a mixture of carrots and cauliflower, because I didn’t have enough of either and Nancy does say you can use other vegetables. Then, we were having a drinks evening and I tested this on my guests (made entirely with carrots, chopped more finely) and the result was equally satisfying both times – lots of oohs, aahs and compliments.  CloseCarCol


1kg carrots, washed or peeled

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Red wine or water

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1 cup cooked, chopped, spicy or bitter greens (optional, I opted not to)


3 garlic cloves, crushed with the flat blade of a knife

1 bunch cilantro (coriander)

1/3 cup finely minced flat-leaf parsley

1tsp harissa or to taste

1tsp sea salt

1tsp Spanish pimento dulce (mild sweet paprika)

1tsp ground toasted cumin seeds

½ tsp ground toasted coriander seeds

Pinch of saffron

½ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon/red wine vinegar – or more to taste

Ground hot red chilli pepper (optional)


To make the carrots: Chop the carrots into irregular 2” chunks and put into a saucepan over a medium heat with the ¼ cup of EVOO. Stir and cook until the carrots start to brown on the edges. Nancy says to cover the carrots with red wine or water and cook partially covered until just tender – 10-15 minutes. I added enough red wine to cover the bottom of the pan, put the lid on and kept an eye on them, topping up the wine as needed for 10 minutes but that’s because I couldn’t bear the thought of then draining away the red wine!  CarColChermoula

To make the chermoula: Chop the garlic, coriander and parsley together to make a very fine mince. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the harissa, salt (I used a little less than ½ tsp), paprika, cumin and coriander (I just used ground rather than grinding my own). Crumble the saffron into the mixture and beat in the oil and lemon (I used apple vinegar as it’s all I had apart from balsamic which I thought would be too strong). Taste and adjust the seasoning adding more harissa or some chilli pepper if liked but be careful not to overpower the flavour of carrots.  CarColPlate

Assembly: Nancy says to drain the carrots and while still hot pour the chermoula over. Stir gently and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes before adding the cooked chickpeas and spicy greens if using. However, I didn’t drain the carrots, as explained earlier, but added the chickpeas to the pan and then stirred in the chermoula and left to cool before serving. It tasted absolutely delicious and the chickpeas had also soaked up some of the chermoula flavours. It’s up to you which method you choose. If you find an easier method that tastes as good, do let me know though, I’m all for ease of preparation! (And yes, I used precooked chickpeas – although in Spain they come in a glass jar and are much more like home cooked)

I hope you’ve enjoyed receiving these daily EVOO recipes as much as I’ve enjoyed testing, tasting and sharing them.  Please do comment and send me pics if you’ve tried any of them.  Next week, we’re back to normal – only one blog – which is a relief, it’s hard this virtual work you know!  Coming soon I’ve got a review of three wonderful AOVE’s (Extra Virgin in Spanish!) from Ya En Tu Casa, a magnificent deli in Vejer where you can be enthused by the fabulous owners Claudia and Diego, sample various products and they’ll even ship them home for you.  Watch this space!

Hasta pronto chicos,





A Veggie Spanish Breakfast


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Whilst there are many different variations on this basic dish of bread with tomato and olive oil, known as Tostado con tomate y aceite de oliva in the region of Andalucía where we’ve been living (pa am tomàquet in Barcelona), I’m amazed that it isn’t more widely enjoyed in the UK as the ingredients are all readily available and it’s healthy, refreshing and infinitely adaptable. We do have a bit of a thing perhaps about sweet breakfasts but there’s even an answer to that in the nearby coastal town of Barbate. But I’ll get to that in a minute. 

The basic recipe calls for bread – rolls, ciabatta style, baguette, white, wholemeal, pretty much any bread you want except sliced loaf bread, although I think fresh flat  soft rolls are best. Cut the roll in half and toast on the cut side only.
Serve warm with a bottle of good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a small bowl of very finely chopped fresh tomato (I use a mezzaluna and ripe, red tomatoes at room temperature) for diners to make up their own proportions. You can sprinkle the tomatoes with fresh or dried oregano if you like.  Usually the bread is stabbed all over with a knife, lashings of EVOO drizzled over, followed by the tomato and sea salt. Being a bit of a girlie, I tear mine into two-bite sized pieces before adding the EVOO etc. as described above. Usually this is served with a strong café con leche (espresso with hot milk) and maybe a freshly squeezed orange juice. Ah, can’t you just smell ‘holidays’? 

Variations include simply rubbing the toasted bread with a peeled and cut garlic clove and half a tomato before sprinkling with EVOO. And, although I’d heard it’s popular I’ve never seen this served anywhere except Barbate (where General Franco used to spend his holidays apparently!) – extra virgin olive oil and HONEY! Seriously, give this a try it’s genuinely really good – especially if you need a sweet hit first thing in the morning, and the EVOO will still be good for you!


Mayo Magic


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There are thousands of recipes for mayonnaise and many of you will have your own favourite.  I confess though I’ve never really been tempted to make mayo as we don’t use it very often.  However, as part of the Olive Oil Sommelier course in Italy, Mauro ran a session on food pairing with EVOO and whipped up this mayonnaise in a matter of minutes.  It’s truly the simplest thing to make and this recipe is absolutely delicious.  I’m sure it’s also an old family recipe, handed down from generation to generation – just not my family though! MayoIngred


1 egg

½ lemon

A generous pinch of salt

2 drops of white vinegar

A lightly flavoured EVOO or mixture of 2 oils to produce the flavour you want


Using a stick hand blender whisk all the ingredients together, adding the EVOO slowly until emulsified and the thickness you like. MayoEVOOBowl

Did I mention this was easy?!

At this point you can add whatever else you fancy – crushed garlic, black pepper, chopped capers, finely chopped salad onions, grated lemon zest …..

This is great in a sandwich with thickly cut fresh bread, a selection of lettuce leaves (including rocket) and roasted veggies such as red peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic.


Lunch anyone?

Send me your favourite mayonnaise recipe and I can give it a go.  Confession time – I used the Oriole that I featured in my blog recently and the flavour was a little overpowering for mayo, fortunately as I was tasting as I went along (not as often as I should have done though!) I managed to rescue it by adding some Olivia oil (also featured here) which is much milder and fruitier.  The finished result was fabulous.  Don’t be afraid to mix your oils guys.

Until tomorrow, happy EVOOing (new word?)



Nut & Raisin EVOO Cookies


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This is based on the Ginger Biscuits recipe in Judy Ridgway & Dr. Simon Poole’s The Olive Oil Diet book. Even though I adore ginger, hubby doesn’t so I adapted the recipe as follows:


75ml EVOO175g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp crushed nuts

2tsp raisins, chopped

1tsp vanilla extract

1 tablespoon clear honey

1 egg

NutRaisinCookies Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (Gas 4) and oil a baking tray or line it with baking parchment if you don’t want to have to wash the tray afterwards.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the nuts and raisins.
  3. Mix together the olive oil, vanilla and honey.
  4. Crack the egg into a measuring jug and beat, then make up the quantity to 75mls with water.
  5. Add this egg mixture to the olive oil, vanilla and honey and whisk well together.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon.
  7. Shape into a soft ball with your hands.*
  8. Divide into 12 balls and put onto the tray with baking parchment and flatten with a fork. They don’t spread so no need to leave too much room between biscuits.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes until a golden colour.
  10. Slide the biscuits carefully onto a rack to cool and eat freshly baked. They also freeze well.

* At this point Judy says: On a floured surface, roll out the ball of dough as thinly as possible and cut into 12-15 rounds with a pastry cutter. Transfer to the baking sheet and cook for 8-9 minutes until browned. I have to confess there was not a snowball’s chance in summer of me being able to roll out my dough so I did the dividing into balls and flattening with a fork technique and they were delicious.

If you want to try the original recipe, replace the nuts and raisins with 2tsp freshly grated root ginger.

Caesar Salad Veggie Style


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If you’re looking to increase your repertoire of vegetarian recipes, or just want the occasional flash of inspiration, head over to Amuse Your Bouche where Becca has thousands of delicious recipes to tempt even the most sceptical of palates. This recipe is an adaptation of her full-blown Ultimate Vegetarian Caesar Salad, which is a meal in itself, because I wanted something simpler to be part of a selection rather than the main attraction. VcaesarIngred


1 small garlic clove

1tsp capers

1 tablespoon grated vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese

1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp white wine vinegar

½ tsp Dijon mustard

1 thick slice of good wholemeal/rye or sourdough bread

A small bunch of thin spears of asparagus

Salt & Black pepper

1 large Romaine lettuce

1 ripe avocado

A small handful of pumpkin seeds dry roasted

Vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, shaved


  1. Caesar Dressing: Crush the garlic with a flat knife and add to a mini food processor

    Smooth and creamy dressing

    or blender with the capers and grated Parmesan style cheese. Blitz until finely chopped. Add the Greek yogurt, 1tbsp of the extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and plenty of black pepper, and blitz again until well combined. Taste, and adjust quantities as desired (remember it will taste stronger straight from the bowl).

  2. Croutons & Asparagus: Cut the slice of bread into 1” pieces and the asparagus spears into 3 or 4 depending on their length.

    Asparagus and Croutons

    Toss both in the remaining olive oil and spread everything out in a single layer on a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper and roast at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway, until the croutons are crispy and the vegetables are soft.

  3. Carefully wash the lettuce leaves and tear them into mouthful-sized pieces. Half, peel and de-stone the avocado.
  4. Assembly: Find your prettiest salad bowl or shallow plate and throw in the lettuce, avocado and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with ¾ of the Caesar dressing and toss well. Top with the asparagus, croutons and a few shavings of Parmesan style cheese. Drizzle with the remaining Caesar dressing and serve immediately.


    Ooh, yummy!

Pesto Passion


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I’ve got to confess, I adore Pesto.  There’s something about the vibrant green and heady aroma of fresh basil, the creamy pine nuts, oozy oil and punch of raw garlic.  I’m in danger of dribbling over the keyboard!  Of course there are hundreds, if not thousands of recipes out there but I always go back to the first one I ever tried and that’s a Delia Smith, our very own national treasure.  To be fair, she did pretty much teach me how to cook – for anyone who remembers her How to Cook books?  (Well, her and a brilliant range of M&S Cookery books that I’ve still got and are so battered now they’re barely legible).

Delia’s Home Made Pesto (Delia’s Summer Collection)


50g (2oz) fresh basil leaves

1 large clove of garlic

1 tablespoon pine kernels

90mls (6tbsp) Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used the Bravoleum I’ve mentioned before, a Spanish Arbequina)

25g Parmesan (be careful to choose Vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese if you’re vegetarian rather than just enjoying eating more veggie food)


Delia says to crush the garlic and grate the cheese but I’ve got to be honest, I don’t bother. I just chop both into reasonable sized pieces and throw everything into the Magimix along with a pinch of salt.


Everything in

Now it’s fair to say that you don’t get a silky smooth, lump free puree but what you do get is a fantastic, fresh, rustic looking pesto that, I think, beats every other pesto sauce hands down.


Not a smooth puree

Back to Delia’s recipe though:

If you have a blender put the basil, crushed garlic, pine kernels, olive oil and a pinch of salt into the goblet and blend until you have a smooth puree.

Transfer this to a bowl and stir in the grated cheese.


Oh boy, that looks good enough to eat!

If you don’t have a blender use a large pestle and mortar to pound the basil, garlic and pine kernels to a paste, slowly add the salt and cheese then very gradually add the oil until you have obtained a smooth puree.


This is of course great stirred into freshly cooked pasta (in which case you’ll serve 3-4 people) and it’s fabulous mixed into rice, cooked vegetables or even in a potato bake: Slice potatoes and onions and layer them in an ovenproof dish. Stir a spoonful of pesto into enough vegetable stock to come about 1cm up the side of the dish. Cover and bake in a moderate oven for about 45 minutes, uncover and sprinkle with grated cheese returning to the oven for about 30 minutes more until the potatoes are meltingly soft and the cheese crisp and golden.  Serve with salad or steamed vegetables.



Chocolate Brownies with EVOO


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Although I usually blog weekly, we’re doing things a little differently this week to link into The Vegetarian Society‘s National Vegetarian Week in the UK (15-21 May 2017).  So, look out for a recipe a day for the next 7 days – every one suitable for Vegetarians and every one making great use of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Let’s start off with Chocolate Brownies because, why the heck not and I bet you’ve never made them with EVOO before.  EVOOBrowniesSo, here we go with a recipe from Virgin Territory, Exploring the World of Olive Oil by Nancy Harmon Jenkins who is widely reported to be the American authority on olive oil.

Chocolate Brownies with EVOO


Unsalted butter to grease a 20cm (8”) square tin (or 23cm/9” round) (I used EVOO)

125g (4oz) dark chocolate – at least 70% cocoa

⅓ cup fruity olive oil (I used a light blend from a local co-operative)

2 large eggs

¾ cup all purpose flour (Plain to us Brits)

2tsp Vanilla extract (Oops, didn’t have any so I used Almond)

1 cup chopped walnuts


  1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C (Gas 4) and butter the cake tin.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces in an ovenproof bowl and put into the preheating oven to melt (or a microwave but be careful not to burn it).

    Melted chocolate and EVOO

    When completely soft, combine with the olive oil, beating with a fork to mix thoroughly then leave to cool.  The aroma as the oil hits the warm chocolate is fab.
  3.  Beat the eggs until they are thick and foamy, then beat in the sugar ¼ cup at a time. When the sugar is thoroughly combined stir in the cool chocolate mixture with a spatula or wooden spoon – do not beat.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour, vanilla and walnuts. Spread the mixture into the tin and place in the preheated oven.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges start to pull away from the pan.

    Oops, a bit careless when removing from the tin – tasted great though!

  6. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into 16-20 squares.

If you make these, send me a photo and tell me what you think.  You can connect via Facebook: The Olive Oil Taster; Twitter: @TasteOliveOil; Instagram: Karen Ormiston; Pinterest: KarenO theoliveoiltaster

Until tomorrow.


Pasta with Toasted Seeds & Feta Cheese


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This was the first recipe I made from the fabulous The Olive Oil Diet book and I’ll warn you right away – the picture isn’t very good.  In my defence, it was possibly taken at the very beginning of starting this blog and I hadn’t worked out that I’d need more than one picture.  So, apologies, don’t let the photo put you off, it’s delicious and really easy I promise!


So, here, complete and unabridged as they say, is Judy Ridgway’s recipe for a delicious, summery pasta that is simple to make and sure to produce compliments galore if you serve it to family and friends.

Ingredients for 4 people:

400g pasta shapes; penne, shells or fusilli would be great

2 tablespoons each of:  pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and sesame seeds

6tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I suggest something quite robust or the flavour will get lost amidst the pumpkin, lemon and feta)

Grated zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 2 (Actually, I remember now, I used the zest of 1/2 a lemon and the juice of 1)

20 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved*

250g feta cheese, crumbled

Salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1.  Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente or according to the packet instructions.
  2. Toss the 6 tablespoons of seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until well browned and popping and set aside until needed.
  3. Drain the pasta and return to the warm pan.  Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat.
  4. Return the pan to the heat adding the lemon zest, juice, olives and feta cheese.
  5. Season with black pepper and stir half the seed mixture into the pasta.
  6. Serve at once with the remaining seeds sprinkled over the top.

* Be careful when buying black olives as many of them have been dyed and chemically treated to make them black.  Read the label carefully and buy from a reputable store.

There, I told you it was simple didn’t I?  If you give it a try, please post a photo and tag me: theoliveoiltaster on Instagram and @TasteOliveOil on Twitter.

If you like this post please share it with your friends and remember, all feedback is welcome.  (I love that I’m writing a food blog and asking for ‘feed-back’)

Until next time.



Tasty Oriole


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Not a recipe for some sort of roasted small bird, but the EVOO that I promised to review in last week’s blog from the fabulous team at O-Live Medioambiente.

Okay, the first thing I have to tell you is that the bottle incorporates this really clever pourer – what a blessing as we spilt ridiculous amounts of the Olivia Oils Ascolano with a bottle doesn’t even have that little plastic bit that slows down the pouring.  Oriolecap

So let’s dive straight in – with our noses that is.  And wow, what a lovely fruity smell, fresh apples and maybe pear.  The colour is quite a dark yellowy green.

The first taste is slightly bitter and grassy and the aftertaste spicy, peppery with quite a long flavour, mellowing to green almonds.

Whilst normally I taste with a crusty white bread, today I didn’t have any to hand and as we normally eat ‘integral’ or wholemeal bread that’s what I used.  Oriole is smooth, bitter and peppery when swallowed and went really well with the slightly salty bread.  I then tried a traditional Spanish breakfast dish (without toasting the bread though) of bread, olive oil and chopped tomatoes and the flavour was fabulous – gentle and unobtrusive at first and then ‘wham’ the pepper hit at the end.

oriolebreadbowlThis EVOO, from Sierra de Grazalema is a monovarietal zorzaleña which is another name for the Lechin de Sevilla.  Monovarietal simply means that the oil is made with only one type of olive – it is not a blend.  It was harvested in early October 2016 and, being unfiltered I would expect a 6-9 months of bottled shelf life.  I’m a little surprised that the ‘consume before’ date is November 2018 because even if this was only bottled in February or March of this year, unfiltered oils can deteriorate faster than filtered due to the presence of some organic material still in the oil.  Many tasters and chefs prefer unfiltered oil because it is even less processed than filtered oil and can have higher phenolics but we’re getting technical now! Whilst there can be a bonus in terms of flavour, the potential downside to unfiltered oil is a shorter shelf life. However, I trust this team and if November 2018 is their recommendation I’d believe them.  However, now that it’s open there is absolutely no chance of this bottle lasting more than a few weeks!

This is the first unfiltered EVOO I’ve knowingly tasted and it’s lovely (I say knowingly because having sampled around 50 anonymous oils on the sommelier course last month, I’m pretty sure at least some of them will have been unfiltered).  The texture is more viscous than other oils I’ve used and you might be able to see in this picture how it left a very definite trail when swirled in the tasting bowl: oilviscous

Uses:  This is a great tapas oil, dipping bread, pan con aceite y tomate (bread with oil and tomato), pistou, aubergine and tomato dishes, maybe poured on a tomato/cheese/basil salad.  Actually we had a delicious garlic, tomato and cheese salad (called Escándalo Salad) in Venta Correro near Benalup on Sunday and this would be the perfect oil for that:  EscandaloSalad

I wouldn’t necessarily fry with it but I had a little leftover in the tasting bowl at lunchtime and swirled it into a home made Corn Chowder just before serving and the aroma and flavour were delicious.

Although you aren’t going to find this oil on the shelf of your favourite deli any time soon, it is readily available to sponsors and supporters and I’d strongly recommend you adopt a tree just to get hold of this lovely liquid gold.  As a slight aside, my hubby has been dragged along on this EVOO journey rather reluctantly and is not known for having a sophisticated palate but when he tasted this oil with bread and then bread and tomato he said it was his favourite oil so far.  When you consider that a year ago he didn’t like oil that “tasted of olives: (yeah, I know, tricky with good extra virgin olive oil!) that’s an amazing journey of discovery he’s undertaken.

So, until next time, enjoy that EVOO and please feel free to leave me a comment, it can get a little lonely this side of the blogging process.  Oh, and share with your friends too – more readers would be fabulous!



Adopt an Olive Tree


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I don’t know about you but I’ve always been drawn to schemes where you can sponsor or adopt something you care about in return for an acknowledgment, a product and usually a real sense of well-being at having supported a good cause.  I clearly remember our class in Primary School sponsoring a child in Africa and receiving a letter of thanks, my son once adopted a book in my name at the John Rylands Library in Manchester and now I’m about to adopt my very first Olive Tree!  And here’s why.

The team of four young people, Spaniards Álvaro de la Heras and Víctor Jiménez, Emeline Mourocq from France and Liliana Borges from Portugal, met on a research project in Granada and, perhaps jokingly at first, discussed starting their own bio-diversity project.  Talk became more serious and in October 2014 the four arrived at the finca on the outskirts of Prado del Rey and the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park with plans, tons of knowledge (check out their bios here – I’m in awe of them!) and bucket loads of enthusiasm but no actual experience of working with olive groves.


The team: L – R Álvaro, Víctor, Liliana and Emeline

Arriving at the start of harvesting, and faced with around 600 trees that had been neglected for many years, O-Live MedioAmbiente was born, onto land that was farmed by Víctor’s grandfather many years ago.


How gracious is this beautiful old tree

In that first year the 6 hectares which contain predominantly zorzaleña olives (similar to the Italian Leccino – a mild, sweet flavoured olive) produced 90 litres of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Fruit starts to appear on the trees in June and is harvested in the first week of October with last year’s harvest producing a very credible 500 litres of Extra Virgin Olive Oil from a crop of 2,500 kgs of olives.

Within three hours of harvest the olives travel 20 kms up to the road to the almazara (mill) where they’re immediately crushed and turned into ‘olive juice’ and within 48 hours the sediment has settled and they’re ready for bottling.  And the finished result: Oriole, named after the beautiful Golden Oriole, a songbird which visits the olive grove annually.

But it’s not only about the olives with this team, they have also installed 60 nest boxes, built small ponds to encourage amphibians to return and little dams to help prevent erosion as the site is on a slope and all the best soil ends up at the bottom of the grove whenever there’s a heavy downfall of rain.


A rabbit centre – kind of a community centre, but for rabbits!

They’ve introduced rabbit centres and described the rabbits as ‘eco system engineers’ as they help to spread seeds and provide vital food for the Lynx Eagles.  The nest boxes have attracted Blue Tits, Sparrows and Starlings and are proving particularly popular.

There are many ways to support the O-Live MedioAmbiente team, from joining them for their regular field trips, bird watching and hiking to membership, donations and volunteering to get your hands dirty!  Which leads me back to the my original point, sponsoring an olive tree.  All the details of their three different sponsorship levels are clearly set out on their website but what all three levels have in common is access to superb quality, artisan, single estate extra virgin olive oil produced by a team who are passionate about preserving their environment, developing methods to help rural farmers and improve biodiversity.


L-R Me, Álvaro, Víctor, Liliana and Julia who was visiting from Madrid to see her adopted tree!

For every new sponsor the team place a nest box in the grove allowing you to follow not only your own tree, but also the lifecycle of the birds from nest building right through to the young fledglings.

If you are anywhere near the area, or can plan a trip to visit the project in Sierra de Grazalema in Southern Spain you’ll receive a warm welcome, see at first hand the fabulous work they’re carrying out – and get to taste some great Extra Virgin Olive Oil into the bargain.  Check the guys out and let me know how you get on if you visit them.  My next blog will feature a tasting of their lovely olive nectar as I crack open a bottle of Oriole and try it for myself.  I’m particularly excited as it will be my first proper tasting of an unfiltered olive oil (the 50 or so EVOOs I tasted on the sommelier course don’t count because I’ve no idea what they all were!).

Until next time …