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The good oil!

Published by Paul O'Sullivan in Olive Oil · 9/1/2014 09:16:48
Tags: Oliveoil

Apologies for the delay in getting my blog updated. I started this a few weeks ago, but family Christmas celebrations, a prolonged shearing (due to wet weather) and a number of Malabar Adventures have kept me from the keypad!
Our Tarwin Valley Adventure tour in early-December gave us the opportunity to catch up with Andrew and Lyn Jamieson at their Golden Creek Olive grove. South Gippsland has become quite a centre for excellent olive oil production with six boutique producers working together to form the Southern Gippsland Olives group, and Andrew and Lyn are at the centre of the action with their recently imported Italian oil press, crushing most of the region’s olives.
The Group works together to promote the local product and rosters their presence at the farmers’ markets each weekend. And at the most recent National Olive Industry Conference, Golden Creek and another group member, Grassy Spur Olives, both received Gold awards, with one of the latter’s oils announce as Best Virgin Olive Oil of the show.
Andrew and Lyn have developed a productive grove of nearly 1000 trees over the last 14 years, planted on the contours around the Fish Creek hills. These are largely oil-producing varieties from Italy, Greece and Spain, with a few eating olives including Kalamata from Greece. As we walked through the grove we could see the tiny fruit, the size of match heads, forming on the trees. (Unfortunately, we were a week or so too late to get a real sense of the beautiful lemon scented aroma that fills the grove when the trees are blossoming.) These fruit will continue growing and ripen in autumn for picking and oil extraction in winter
The grove is a true labour of love for Andrew and Lyn, each having their (mostly manual) duties to perform. They choose not to use any herbicides, so their task of mowing the grass under all the trees is constant work through spring and walking up and down the hills keeps Andrew in peak condition of fitness to be successfully competing at the Masters games!
The oils from the different trees show distinctly different aromas and flavours, and as such Golden Creek largely produces varietal oils, although some are blended. There is quite an art to the tasting technique – bread is dipped in the oil then placed on the tongue followed by a good slurping action to get the flavour onto the back of the throat! (A good tip is to have a small slice of apple to cleanse the palate between tastings.)
As well as tasting wonderful there are increasing reports about the health benefits of olive oil as an anti-inflammatory agent and arthritis treatment.
Lyn stresses the importance of purchasing fresh Extra Virgin olive oil, and keeping it stored away from light - hence the use of dark bottles for good quality oil. And be careful of some of the cheaper olive oils in the supermarket –there’s no way of knowing the freshness of some of the imported brands (they can taste quite rancid) and "light olive oil" doesn’t mean low fat!
Extra virgin olive oil is the purest form of olive oil, using only mechanical means to separate the oil and no additives are included. It must be pressed at less than 30 degrees C, and have no aromatic or flavour faults. Light olive oil is derived from olive oil not worthy of the extra virgin label and refined using either mechanical or chemical means.
Not just for salad dressings and marinades, Lyn uses olive oil to replace butter in lots of dishes and when baking.
I haven’t done much desert cooking, but inspired by Lyn I have tried to master a beautiful dish from a book written by Patrizia Simone (of Simone’s restaurant at Bright). The book is called "My Umbrian Kitchen" and takes the reader through the seasonal food and recipes of her native Umbria region of Italy.
The soft centred chocolate and olive oil puddings are heavenly! Melt 115g dark chocolate  (55% cocoa solids) and 60g unsalted butter in a small heatproof bowl, stirring over a pan of simmering water, then add 80ml extra virgin olive oil and set aside.
In another bowl combine 60g plain flour, 100g caster sugar and 4 55g eggs(lightly beaten), then add the chocolate mixture, and set aside for 10 minutes. (The recipe suggests adding 2 teaspoons of truffle paste to the mix if available.)
Add the mixture to 4 small ramekins that have been greased and bake at 180 degrees for 9 -12 minutes or until the puddings are just cooked! TIMING IS CRITICAL, which is why I say I have "tried" to master this dish. Not cooked enough and they collapse when removing them from the ramekin; cooked too much and they become hard, not soft, centred – and I have managed to produce both, with my daughter peering over my shoulder saying "no pressure dad, but……".



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