Under Tuscan Sun has a lot to answer for .
For many years I have hankered after long lazy lunches amongst the olive trees , feasting with friends on local produce, washed down with the local tipple . Olive trees always featured .
I was a late adopter of olives. Somehow my taste buds didn’t quite want to acquire them but I’ve been a firm fan of olive oil ( pure extra virgin, of course) since I started to cook – it always felt like a nod to good health, whatever I was making !
An unfulfilled dream for M & I since moving to NZ was to grow our own olives and press them into our own oil .Our last attempt produced zero results for us, but the local bird population still thanks us. However, last week it happened .
Now we don’t quite boast the plentiful olive groves of Tuscany – or even as many as almost everyone in Marlborough who all seem to have a grove tucked away or at least access to one .
We have 7 trees.
And only 4 have fruit .
And they’re not even hugely productive. By calculations based on a complex equation shared over a recent dinner with friendly local experts , they were expected to provide me with a whopping 2 litres of olive oil .
So , not enough to retire on really….
Undeterred I looked to other means to supplement our meagre crop . Having been dissuaded from procuring more from laden roadside trees ( ” that’s stealing you know “), I sent a message to new friends and neighbours to ask if any crops were going unharvested. It’s at this time I start to realise that not everyone was quite as excited as me and most saw their olives as little more than a windbreak at best . “Yeah we did all that once , said a very over-it neighbour “.
So the offers flooded in ! With the much welcome help of M and my wunder sibling D , we managed to pick a mighty 42.5kgs over a few hours .
It’s not easy work but it’s not as hard as grape picking that’s for sure !
I really enjoyed every second of it .
We are very lucky to have a olive press cooperative in the area so I threw the olives in the Ute and went in search of good oil .
“So how many containers in total” he said . “3- they’re all there ” I replied, pointing to the Ute.
“How much have you got” he said . “About 40kg ” I said beaming with pride .
“It’s minimum 250kgs” he said ( with a look I’m beginning to recognise in people now ).
Ok so I’m getting that ‘newby from another planet ‘feeling again .
It doesn’t get any better when a nice old guy comes up behind us and says to him , “where do you want my first tonne ? “.
Whether it was pity or kindness or perhaps a Marlborough blend of both , my ( now not so) impressive crop was accepted and overnight magically transformed into 7 litres of deliciousness .
I couldn’t have been happier collecting it in my new , shiny and very expensive olive oil container complete with tap ! (M didn’t fail to notice – or comment – that everyone else made do with plastic buckets…..!)
It was a truly joyful process from start to finish .
So, future plans :
- We’re going to plant more olives ( they’re also apparently good wind breaks!)
- I’m going to stay enthusiastic for more than the first year.
- We’re going to aim for 250kgs next year but if not I will hope for another benevolent and sympathetic sort to turn a blind eye at the Press ….
And I’m definitely going to have my long lazy lunch amongst the olive trees with my very own good oil but, Under Marlborough Sun 🙂