Getting The Good Oil
When it comes to olive oil most of us have been missing out on the really good stuff. You see it turns out that olive oil is a fickle mistress, particularly when it’s Extra Virgin.
Hand-picked olives must be pressed only once, with no refining or chemicals involved, at a temperature below 28 degrees. The fresh olive juice then undergoes scientific analysis and tasting to be certified as Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It’s then lovingly stored away from sunlight and oxygen to protect the quality and flavour.
You can only imagine the learning curve David and Isabella Sullivan embarked on after moving from Devonport five years ago to 11 acres, with 1200 olive trees and seven different varieties. Luckily Isabella hails from Milan, and just like fine wine, she knows when it’s an excellent drop.
“I just couldn’t imagine a day without olive oil. In Italy it is part of our culture, part of who we are,” Isabella explains with quintessential ‘passione’.
“Italians know how to make exceptional sports cars, wine, cheese, bread, fashion and of course olive oil!”
And who would dare to argue against that?
Matakana is often compared to Tuscany and as Isabella looks out across the olive groves to a neighbouring vineyard and rolling hills, she agrees. She also adds that much like Tuscany, emphasis is on local community, and providing quality artisanal produce.
The olive oil the couple make at Mahurangi Olives forms part of the Matakana Olive Co-operative. Patrons of many local eateries adore it and the Matakana market regulars refill their oil flagons. Hi-end restaurants in Auckland even select specific blends to enhance their fine dining experience. The couple have now introduced olive grove tours, tastings, bed and breakfast accommodation and a pottery studio. Visitors get a unique taste in the art of making quality olive oil from tree to bottle.
www.mahurangiolives.co.nz 108 Lawrie Road Warkworth