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What determines the number of feet an olive tree has?

By “olive tree feet” we may mean the number of trees planted in an area comprising one hectare, which may range from 20 olives per hectare in certain parts of Tunisia, to over 2,000 in some superintensive plantations. This variability mainly depends on the climate of the area, the availability of water –whether from rain or watering systems-, the level of mechanization and, above all, the harvesting system used.
On the other hand, “olive tree feet” may also mean the number of trunks that shape each tree. In this sense, each of these feet generally has just one sole stake, although at times these can be mixed up with olive trees which, with just one trunk, have suffered drastic
reconversion pruning –for instance, after a catastrophe, a fire or a very intense frost- and have been reborn with various shoots emerging from the same base.
In any case, the reasons that drive the olive farmer to cultivate one or more feet are complex, although, one curious explanation is the fact that in hot areas the existence of various feet aims to create a microclimate within each cluster of olive trees with a view to increasing their activity even at high temperatures.
Nonetheless, this type of olive groves with various feet need long periods of time to reach their maximum yield and, moreover they are difficult to mechanize. This is why this type of plantation has been replaced with others which, while they still have the same number of feet there is a distance of at least seven metres between each tree, or even by the super-intensive groves in which the olive trees are planted one metre away from each other in rows separated by 4 or 5 metres.
Alberto Alecha, olive grove technician for the Mesa del Aceite y del Olivo de Rioja Alavesa




“If we only awarded three prizes per category, nobody would take part”

As new competitions rating the quality of olive oils emerge all over the world, the criticisms of these are also becoming more abundant. Although nobody questions the professionalism of the tasting panels, or the healthy objectives they pursue, it is true that the criteria used for determining awards are increasingly questioned… Read more.


A World of Surprises

In the thick of it

To extract one’s own olive oil is a possibility that more than one owner of small olive groves have considered when, season after season, they have to hand over their harvests to the major cooperatives to grind the olives and extract the prized juice.
And this is what Artesanos del Aceite through almost a year ago when they acquired “the first mobile mill in Spain for the small producer”, recounts Antonio Salas, one of the partners of the family company located in Morón de la Frontera (Seville).
It is an Italian machine that, apart from grinding between 200 and 300 kilos of olives per hour, also meets the strict traceability parameters needed to obtain exquisite extra virgins “because the time between the harvest and the grinding of the fruit is minimal, thus preventing oxidation”, assures Salas, proudly referring to the organic certification obtained.
This pioneering “invention” which has been operative since last October, is creating a sensation among small companies and producers of organic oils in our country as it offers all the advantages of a large capacity mill with a significant added value: “the possibility of savouring your own freshly made oil”, says the owner of this company based in Seville, who is extremely proud of having fulfilled both his dream and that of many olive producing companies.
And while we’re on the subject of farming, more than one member of the community is going to be drawn to a new version of Mi cosecha, mobile application with which the small and medium-sized farmer will daily manage the olive harvest from their smartphone. Developed by the company called iAvanza, this digital tool that can be dowloaded free, allows for the olive loads to the mill to be recorded daily, to control daily wages, to classify data according to the various estates and to obtain a complete x-ray of the season’s results, among other aspects.
Right in the thick of it (as tradition dictates), but with cutting-edge technology! /



Extra virgin even in the deep fat fryer

It is always good to take a roadside break and be received with an extra virgin that complies with the current law. This is what happened to us on the way to Medina del Campo, where we visited the Oliduero mill, by Grupo Matarromera. As soon as we entered the province of Segovia, we were gifted with this individual portion of Molino de Zafra, that we savoured as we watched the owner also use extra virgin olive oil to fill the deep fat fryer used to fry the highly prized churros and porras… See picture.

Place: La Churrería de San Rafael, San Rafael (Segovia)
Date: November 12, 2014


Gastronomy & Olive Oil


Swiss chard with white prawns

With elegant staging, exquisite ingredients and a supreme creativity. This is how Alejandro Sánchez puts together this mould-breaking dish, a mix of the traditional and the modern. In it, the bitter taste of the Swiss chard blends perfectly with the sweetness and iodized taste of the Almería prawns, triggering a sensorial explosion gently perfumed with the fruity aroma of the Arbequino extra virgin. Let the banquet begin!... Read more.



Individual portions ad hoc

If there is one wholesale company that has taken the new olive oil labelling and packaging legislation seriously, then that company is undoubtedly the German brand, Makro. In its newly launched catalogue of individual portions and non-refillable packagings, it even sells its own extra virgins under the brand name of Rioba, chosen in this case by the Bar-Restaurant, La Rivera, which, located in an industrial estate in Getafe, appears to be more committed to quality than a lot of the theoretically showy restaurants… See picture.

Place: Bar-Restaurante La Rivera, Getafe (Madrid)
Date: September 26, 2014


Special Tasters

The “irresistibles” for this Christmas

Christmas is synonymous of an era plethoric with magic. It is a period in which this classic tradition dictates that we pay tribute to those who enrich our lives with details that awaken emotions and fill us with excitement. With no offence to others of a different nature, culinary gifts head up a very tasty trend that appears to be here to stay for years now. Irresistible… Read more.


On the Cover


Return to the earth that which it has given us

Introductions are unnecessary. Anyone with minimal knowledge of oenology, knows that the wines produced by Grupo Matarromera in any of its seven bodegas occupy a privileged position among the best in the world. And it is by no means a coincidence. The successes achieved to date are fruit of the personal belief of the owner, Carlos Moro, in a catalogue of quality products that was recently extended to include olive oil. Produced by themselves and packaged under the brand name Oliduero, this extra virgin has already gained a foothold among the most prized. Shortly after its market debut, it was selected by the prestigious Italian guide, Flos Olei which, in its 2015 edition awarded it 83 points… Read more.



Draw your own conclusions

While it is true that practically all the competitions held yearly to distinguish olive oil quality tend to use professional tasters in their juries and generally abide by the International Olive Council protocols in their classifications, it is also true that they do not all share the same prestige.
Up until recently, the criticisms of certain events were limited to close circles, defining them as pure business to attract participants with the promise of an evening from which they would almost certainly walk away with an award, as long as they met with the minimal quality requirements. This is so much the case that, according to what we’ve been hearing for some time, a considerable number of producers decide not to submit their products and many tasters decline a lot of the invitations they receive.
A similar argument was publicly put forward by the organisers of the World’s Best Olive Oils (WBOO) at the start of this year to justify their controversial decision to leave out the results obtained in three of these competitions in their calculations of the best olive oils and mills this year, as we explained in our special report on awards published in this edition.
For their part, the organisers of the competitions in question are indignant about what they consider an absurd omission. Or this at least is what Raúl C. Castellani transmitted to us in the interview we also published in this edition of OLIVARAMA.
For our part, we simply reflect both perspectives without declaring in favour of either. Which is also why we included the complaints against the WBOO criteria due to its inclusion of certain competitions and exclusion of others using the excuse of the high number of awards they grant given that, if this were really the reason, they would have to leave far more competitions out of their calculations.
On the other hand, we commend the effort made by WBOO when drawing up this ranking given that some of the competitions included do not publish the brand names of the winning oils, but rather just the companies name which, occasionally are presented under different or even misspelled names. Those who do publish the brand name, don’t always publish it in its entirely or, if they do they sometimes omit the varietal the oils are made of meaning that if they pertain to a range of various oils, it is hard to pinpoint exactly which one won the award.
Having reached this point, we have little alternative but to paraphrase the journalist Ana Pastor and say “this is the data, draw your own conclusion”.


High Quality


Once again, Spain heads up the international Top 10

It’s impossible to please everyone and even less so in the olive oil sector. This time around, certain international competitions and selections convened year after year to distinguish the quality of this product triggered the controversy.
Although many of these events have been a hot topic on the grapevine for some time now, the truth is that nobody has been as publicly clear and blunt about their opinion as the World’s Best Olive Oils, an annual ranking that weighs the results obtained in the most prestigious olive oil competitions in both hemispheres to determine the best oils in the world.
Bearing this in mind, a few months back they decided to toughen their selection criteria using the demanding standards organised by the International Olive Council at the end of each season as a point of reference. Thus the decision was made to discard those tournaments that, among other things, distinguished over 25 olive oils in each of the gold, silver, bronze or equivalent categories. As a result of this amendment, its last edition excluded competitions like TerraOlivo (Israel), Olivinus (Argentina) and The New York International Olive Oil Competition (USA). It also left out the Concorso Internazionale Leone d’Oro dei Mastri Oleari (Italy), though in this instance due to the fact that it failed to deliver its results on time.
As a result of these changes along with the incorporation of the Copenhagen International Olive Oil Awards (Denmark) and the Concurso Internacional de Aceite de Oliva Virgen Extra - Premio Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (Argentina), 16 competitions shaped the ranking of the World’s Best Olive Oils, instead of the 18 that determined the last edition.
Below, we will describe a selection of the main international competitions without analysing their rigour, but excluding those which do not publish their outcomes on their respective websites.
We will also cover the Award, “Alimentos de España al Mejor Aceite de Oliva Virgen Extra” granted by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, which is exclusively national.

Check the winner lists on our "AWARDS" section


Oil Tasting


Melgarejo Picual

Colour: Green.
Nose: High fruit intensity and pronounced green notes, among which the leaf stands out over the grass. Tomato, artichoke and other vegetal notes are also highly intense.
Palate:The bitterness and spiciness intensities can be considered balanced among themselves. The green characteristics stand out, and are very persistent. There is considerable harmony between the perceptions in the mouth and the nose.
Varietal: Picual.
Origin: Pegalajar (Jaén).


Book Review


El Llibre de l’ Oli

Edited by: Lectio Ediciones
Language: Catalan
Year of edition: 2013
Pages: 130
RRP: 32 €
Tel.: +34 971 533 850

The olive tree has been cultivated in Palma de Mallorca since the Classical period. So much so, that it forms part of the most spectacular landscapes and has been a key element in the island’s economy for centuries. In this territory, the olive groves of Sierra de Tramuntana are outstanding, where trees grafted onto wild olives rise up with an extraordinary stature and characteristics, which have inspired illustrious painters and poets alike. All of this innate beauty is portrayed in Llibre de l’Oli (El libro del Aceite), a compendium of historical, cultural, anthropological and ecological information about the olive groves and extra virgin olive oil produced on this island.
Agricultural and gastronomic information makes up this publication written by Joan Mayol, producer of Verderol, an olive juice extracted from around 3,000 olive trees that grow in the Palma area and are protected under the PDO Oli de Mallorca.
In addition, its 130 pages are illustrated with high quality photos and also enclose a reproduction of the pictorial work by Pilar Montaner dedicated to the olive trees, from the first half of the XX century.
A true work of art dedicated to lovers of this olive juice!


Olivarama Recommends

Mercato Ballarò

C/ Santa Engracia, 24
28010 Madrid (Spain)
Tel.: +34 913 101 618 / 913 084 966
Type of cuisine: Sicilian with seasonal products
Chef: Angelo Marino
Average price: 15 – 20 € (Mercato Abajo) and 35 - 45 € (Mercato Arriba)
Opening hours: From Mondays to Saturdays, from 12:00 to 00:00. Sundays, from 12:00 to 16:00. Closed on Sundays night.

It is impossible to conceive of a Sicilian cuisine without extra virgin olive oil! An opinion shared by those behind Mercato Ballarò, a tasty den for anyone feeling homesick for the taste of Italy.
Angelo Marino, chef and owner, claims that olive juice occupies a central place in his cuisine, a masterly blend of the best ingredients from land and sea with the care dedicated to their preparation.
As soon as they walk in the door of this restaurant in the Spanish capital, diners are enveloped in a warm and familiar atmosphere, that grows as they discover the evocative menu that uses the flavours of the Sicilian pantry to broaden its spectrum in a Mediterranean key, with references to the culinary roots of other neighboring regions and the north of Africa.
In both of his dining rooms, it is easy to bow to his typical culinary delights such as the wild seabass carpaccio with a summer truffle and asparagus tapenade, currently in season; the sapphron flavoured caserecce with a seafood orgy and shoots or the red Almadraba tuna… all dressed with typical undertones of the local varietals such as the Biancolilla,and the Spanish olives, such as Arbequina or Picual, the latter represented by the oil, Dominus Cosecha Temprana!
To enter Mercato Ballarò is to enjoy exultant taste experiences, results of a gentle blend of cultures that impregnates the island bathed in the Mediterranean.


Oil Tasting


Francisco Gómez Gold

Colour: Golden.
Nose: Medium fruitiness with fundamentally ripe and mild green grass notes that blend with apple and almond.
Palate: Both the bitterness and spiciness emerge with medium intensity. Between these two attributes there are also vegetal notes that combine with a gentle touch of green grass. It stands out for its sweet undertones.
Varietal: Arbequina.
Origin: Villena (Alicante).


Olivarama Recommends

El Inti de Oro

C/ Ventura de Vega, 12 & C/ Amor de Dios, 9
28014 Madrid
Tel.: +34 914 296 703 / 914 291 958
Type of cuisine: Traditional Peruvian
Chef: Segundo Vidarte/Gonzalo Amorós
Average price: 30 €
Opening hours: From Mondays to Sundays, from 13:30 to 16:00; and from 21:00 to 24:00.

The most authentic flavours and aromas of Peruvian cuisine reside in El Inti de Oro, a Madrid-based restaurant which, after 20 years in operation, continues to represent this mix of cultures resulting from the five thousand regional specialities.
Both the staff and the decoration of this restaurant are dressed in Peruvian style, while it's kitchen offers a cuisine based on the most authentic flavours and aromas of the ancestral Creole gastronomy.
Sprinkled with the extra virgin, Abril Gran Selección, the dishes that are minutely designed by the chefs, Segundo Vidarte or Gonzalo Amorós, serve to provide an unusual sensorial experience washed down with pisco, a distilled grape juice, or the beer, Cusqueña.
Among the delicacies to share, the ají amarillo (bread soaked in milk, Parmesan cheese and a slight hint of walnuts) or the escabeche de pescado are ideal starters that prepare the palate to receive the fried "Inti de Oro" ceviche, the Quinoto (a sort of risotto made of a cereal traditionally associated with the Incas) or the Corvina a lo macho (fillet of seabass with rice and shellfish). We will enjoy these "main courses” with the Suspiros limeños (caramel with meringue and cinnamon) or the ice cream made of lúcuma (a regional fruit).
If you want to experience an incredible journey to this Latin country without leaving Madrid, pay a visit to any El Inti de Oro restaurant, the oldest, classic Peruvian restaurants in the capital!


From the Tree to the Table



Also known as the varietal from the North, the Arróniz is a genuine survivor. It has successfully evaded the harshness of an occasionally extreme climate, it has managed to adapt to all sorts of terrains and it has proven capable of preventing its own disappearance at a time in which the vineyard began to steal its thunder. Luckily, the current-day administrative and professional efforts have succeeded in giving it back an honourable, though discreet, place in national olive oil culture… Read more.


Book Review


Terres de L’ Ebre, itinerarios turísticos

Edited by: Lectio Ediciones
Language: Spanish
Year of edition: 2014
Pages: 120
RRP: 13,90 €
Tel.: +34 977 602 591

A list of proposals for seven long routes through the Lands of the Ebro, each with basic information on how not to miss out on the natural spaces, heritage and cultural activity of each emblematic area is what the reader will find in the pages of Terres de L’ Ebre,
itinerarios turísticos. This is a wonderful guide to discover a spectacular territory which, located in the south of Catalonia, surrounds the river and offers a very varied geography.
In this manual, the author Jordi Bastart provides everything necessary for the enjoyment of a different and interesting destination: walking itineraries; visits to castles, natural caves, beaches and outstanding places to stay; tastings of the typical gastronomy…
But he also suggests travelling deeper into this land populated with olive groves and vineyards which adorn the mountains of Pàndols, Cavalls and Fatarella, to discover where these delicious extra virgin olive oils –produced under the PDOs Aceite del Baix Ebre-Montsià and Aceite de Terra Alta- and wines that pair with even the most varied cuisine, come from.
Without a doubt, Terres de L’ Ebre, itinerarios turísticos is a journey illustrated with spectacular images of the unique and varied landscape of these lands declared a Biosphere Reserve.


The Event


Queens of kings

Olives are the undisputed queens of the aperitif. Whether alone or as the base for original and tasty dressings, these nutritional treats promote their enormous culinary potential whenever they can. One example of this took place in the hands of a group of “dressing kings” who participated in The Aceituning Young Authors Competition. Held in Madrid back in the month of June, it was a very closely fought contest, but just one chef from Madrid succeeded in winning the first prize… Read more.