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Olive Oil Tasting in the Land of Taste

As lovers of food we love to explore the best foods from around the world. Olive Oil tasting in Verucchio proved that we have been buying the wrong oil.

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Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

Don’t expect to show up in Italy and begin to wow everyone with your knowledge of food. It just won’t happen. From the moment Italians are born, they are surrounded by traditional, and local produce.

In Emilia-Romagna, the land of taste, this is even more ingrained in their culture.

Everyone is passionate about food. From the smallest villages to the largest cities, the locals live, breath, and eat fine food.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

In this fast paced world that we now live in, so many people forget that food is not just about sustaining our lives. It is meant to be enjoyed. You should put time aside to learn everything you can about the art of food.

And to be inspired to learn, you have to hear it from a passionate local.

In the small hilltop village of Verucchio we did exactly that. Overlooking the Adriatic coastline in Emilia-Romagna we met Mario. A truly passionate local.

Mario Il Borgo Olive Oil

We have met very few people during our lives that have loved their jobs unconditionally. I don’t just mean they enjoy getting up every morning to go to work. But truly love and are passionate about what they do.

Mario is one of those people.

For 3 hours we were treated to a personal tour of Verucchio, including the art of producing olive oil, and the art of olive oil tasting.

Mario has just over 1300 Olive trees on the slopes below Verucchio and employs a staff of one. Himself. He does everything by hand and produces one of the best Extra Virgin Olive Oils in the world. Rightly called Il Borgo, which translates into “The Village”.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

We spoke at length with him about why he doesn’t try and upscale or employ more people to help him. His answer was pure and simple.

“For the quality”

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

It dawned on us then, that the rest of us are doing it all wrong.

Here he was, working his butt off every day, and had been for the last 40 years, and he just wanted to make sure he was putting out the best product possible. He wasn’t after fame or fortune.

He just wanted to share his love for Olive Oil. We were instantly enthralled by him.

He knew everything there was to know about Olives and the art of creating high quality Olive Oil.

As we settled down for our tasting Mario ran through a couple of tips to make sure we got the full aroma and taste from Olive Oil we tried. We want to share our tips learnt with you as well.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

Still too ripe.

Tips for Tasting Olive Oil

While you don’t swig Olive Oil like a beer or wine, the same process for enjoying it apply.

Smell

The smell of olive oil is very important and critical to its flavor.

Pour a little bit of extra virgin olive oil into a glass, allowing it to warm between your hands. Swirl a few times and then stuff your nose right in there to get the full aroma. We were told that we should expect to notice the smell of fresh-cut grass, tropical fruits, and ripe olive fruit.

It smelt like oil to me. Still excellent, but I just wanted to move onto the tasting stage.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

Sound

Place you ear in the glass now. You should be able to hear the sounds of summer, a soft breeze, and people laughing at you. Turns out Mario also has a sense of humour and was just pulling our leg. Luckily I held my tongue, as I was about to agree that I could hear summer.

Taste

Take a sip. But don’t swallow. You want to hold it as you breath in though your mouth. Now shut your gob and breathe out through your nose. This will give you a whole bunch of other flavors that you wouldn’t have tasted if you just swallowed it in one gulp.

The Il Borgo Olive Oil is quite spicy compared to others around the region. Mario explained that Verucchio is the perfect distance from the sea. Therefore the salty air, fertile soil and altitude all contribute to that spice.

This slight spicy flavour means it is a very high quality oil. The best can give you just the tiniest tingle but can be strong enough to make you cough.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

In addition to the fruity and spicy tastes, it can be quite bitter. If you ever try an olive right off the tree then you will agree they are bitter (don’t do it). And since Olive Oil is made from uncured olives, you get the same result.

The blacker the fruit, the less bitter it is. That is why Mario waits until his olives are still half green and black. The blacker they are, then the sweeter the Olive Oil.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

Our tasting didn’t last very long…

Next time you are cooking dinner or having a few snacks in front of the television, try our tips to see how your Olive Oil compares. It might be time to give Mario a call and order some in.

You won’t regret it!

Extra Travel Tips:

You can get to Verucchio by bike from Rimini along the river pathway. Although it is quite a trek up to the top of the village from there.

Travel to Rimini from around Europe either by Rail (www.trenitalia.com) or by flying direct to the International Federico Fellini Airport.

Mario will show you around if you want to check out the rest of the town including where to find the best pizza!

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

Disclaimer: We were guests of the Emilia-Romagna tourism board as part of the hugely successful #Blogville project. As always, our thoughts and photos, are our own.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Tom @ Waegook Tom

    September 14, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    Agggh this post has gotten me hungry! I friggin’ love olive oil and mopping it up with good, Italian bread is divine. My mum mixes it with some good balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt…I could sop some of that up right about now.

  2. Laurence

    September 15, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    I’m all about hearing summer. It’s actually an amazing sound, full of cicadas and swaying willow fronds, brooks burbling gently to themselves…

  3. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    September 16, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    Spicy, lovingly made olive oil makes every dish (and every trip) better. Thanks for the tips. I’m off to listen to my olive oil…

    • Cole Burmester

      September 17, 2012 at 9:38 AM

      Hahaha. Just don’t let anyone catch you listening to it 😉

  4. Jarmo @ Arctic Nomad

    September 16, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    Damn, now I really want some good bread and olive oil! Such simple things, but a good olive oil makes all the difference! I had never really thought of smelling it thou, or listening to it for that matter 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      September 17, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      We had no idea about the smelling either. I am sure the local supermarket one isn’t quite the same though 🙂

  5. Diego

    September 17, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Good thing about Italy, its food is very rich and full of spice and herbs. Based on my experience, Italians allot handful time to prepare food. Every meal is filled with scrumptious and enticing dishes.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 18, 2012 at 5:57 PM

      Italy is just amazing for food. We love it all! Could get very fat from eating all the time haha.

  6. D.J. - The World of Deej

    September 17, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Always great to encounter people like this with such a passion for their work, city, etc. They seem to provide the most long lasting travel memories.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 18, 2012 at 5:59 PM

      Mario was awesome. So glad we had a chance to meet him and his wife. People like this inspire us to continue doing what we love too.

  7. Raymond @ Man On The Lam

    September 17, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    I went to see a Margaret Cho show and she said she drinks olive oil for her voice. Not sure I could chug it on it’s own though. 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      September 18, 2012 at 6:00 PM

      Hmmm not sure I would chug it either. Although, give me a loaf of bread and a bottle of Olive oil and I could finish it haha.

  8. Arianwen

    September 17, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    I wouldn’t have expected ‘olive oil tasting’ to be a pastime! It sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen. But such a great experience to learn from someone so passionate. So, what does summer sound like?!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 18, 2012 at 6:02 PM

      I know right! They do say that this type of olive oil is meant to be quite good for you though… Who knows.

  9. travelFREAK

    September 18, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    I recently did some olive oil tasting on Waiheke Island, New Zealand. This particular region is REALLY good for olives, apparently. So yum! Nothing like Italy, I’m sure, though. Great photos, too!

  10. Jess | GlobetrotterGirls

    September 18, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    This sounds awesome! Olive oil is technically good for you, like red wine, in moderation. So I see nothing wrong with taking these tips and making this a hobby. I mean, if it’s good for me…:)

  11. Arti

    September 20, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    Quite an experience you had!! Olive oil is not that famous in India though but is used extensively in Italian food.

  12. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    September 21, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    I’m a big fan of good olive oil and brought back 6 bottles in my backpack. Mmmmm, tasty stuff!

  13. Naomi

    September 22, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Mmm…we need more of this in Girona!!

  14. London Blogger

    September 26, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    Italy is, I must say, aside from its famous tourist spots, it is known for its food. Every household has its stock of olive oil and different spices which makes the food so flavorful and delicious.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 30, 2012 at 5:20 PM

      We loved every item of food we tried in Italy. It was a non-stop food orgy!

  15. EurotripTips

    September 26, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    Sounds YUM! I had no idea you could actually go on an olive oil tasting session. I’m intrigued now!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 30, 2012 at 5:21 PM

      Go visit the Emilia-Romagna region and tell them that we sent you. Then you can do any tasting you want 😉

  16. Candice

    September 26, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    I wish I did an Olive Oil tasting like this when I was in Italy! I love meeting people like Mario when I travel, he is the kind of guy you will probably remember forever.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 30, 2012 at 5:33 PM

      Mario will definitely stick in our minds. As will how nice the olive oil was 🙂

  17. ace @ travelling wall

    October 5, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    I love olive oil and will certainly be trying your tips. Not only is it so tasty but it is a healthy source of fat which is a crucial part of a well balanced diet.

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Europe

Four Jandals Visits an Amsterdam Peep Show

Have you ever wanted to visit an Amsterdam peep show? We had the chance to go and embraced it with open arms. Check out our experience here

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Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

An Amsterdam peep show is a must, just like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Okay slightly different. But you have got to go!

And if you have ever wanted to visit Amsterdam then more than likely you are going to be interested in checking out a peep show in the red light district. It might be worthwhile checking out this Amsterdam’s Red Light District – The ultimate guide.

Amsterdam Moulin Rouge Red Light District

There is something about the red light district that draws the punters and tourists alike in. Maybe it is the bright red neon lights that illuminate the darkened alleyways that pull them in like moths to a flame. Or the bars and coffee shops that let a certain smell waft lazily across the glistening canals.

Or maybe it is just the fact that sex really does sell.

When we visited Amsterdam with a couple of friends we actually spent what I now consider an embarrassingly long time in that same area. The fact is that we seriously could not get enough.

Not like that of course!

We just couldn’t believe that everyone is so open and carefree about what is for all intents and purposes, window shopping for sex. The number of guys knocking on windows and being ushered behind the curtains of every room were staggering.

However, we were not enticed ourselves to fork over $50 euros but were intrigued enough to want to check out an Amsterdam peep show. I just want to clarify here that it was actually Adela that was the most keen. I just didn’t want to let her down so went along with it…

Amsterdam Red Light District

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaynekaye/4792525797

Visiting the Amsterdam peep show

Much to our surprise, there is only one Amsterdam peep show left in the whole city back in 2012!

The very originally named “Sex Palace” is situated on the banks of one of the main canals in the heart of the red light district on Oudezijds Achterburgwal street. Walking under the neon flashing lights into the entrance way your senses are assaulted by sights, sounds and disturbingly smell.

All around the walls are posters and screens showing ladies in various states of undress and positions. A white board lists the movies that you can rent out for your viewing pleasure in one of the many private booths. But we were only there for one thing:

The circular structure sitting slightly to the left of the entrance with a dozen small doors along it’s walls. 

Each of those small doors lead into equally small rooms no larger than a traditional UK phone box. A small covered viewing window blocks your view forward.

The money box clinging to the wall to operate the viewing window only accepts coins. But don’t worry if you only have notes as they handily have a large coin machine dishing out $2 euro coins for ease of watching.

Once you close the door and chuck in your money, the viewing window pops open for 2 minutes and allows you to view the large, slowly-rotating stage on which a scantily-dressed woman displays herself. With her flexibility she could have represented any country in the upcoming Olympics!

Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattmangum/2301545978

I was cracking up laughing the entire time I was in there because you can actually just make out the rest of the “audience” in the opposite booths. I even got a little wave and smile as the girl slowly revolved past my window.

The Amsterdam peep show was a little bit creepy. But even though we were there late on a Saturday night the booths were doing a roaring trade. Obviously nearly everyone else, from the hens parties to the couples, were there for the same reason as us. To check out one or two rounds before heading back into the night giggling like school girls at a sleepover at what we had just done.

The shifty eyed single men on the other hand skulked away to their respective viewing windows again and again with pockets full of coins.

If you ever get the chance then we actually do highly recommend taking the plunge and visiting an Amsterdam peep show. Just make sure that you are always respectful of the women in the shows and the ones on the streets!

Have you ever been to an Amsterdam Peep Show or Sex show? Tell us about your experience below.

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Europe

5 European Cities to Visit in the Dead of Winter

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As one of the most polarizing seasons, winter could be termed as both a blessing and a curse by those who like making the most out of nature.

After all, while it brings about the opportunity to build snowmen and to ski on magnificent ice slopes, it also brings a chill to the bone and a desire to never get away from the fireplace.

Don’t forget about the hot chocolate either.

That is why, when it comes to vacationing in winter, it gets quite difficult to choose from a location – especially when the destination is as diverse in climate as Europe. Do you select a place that’s sunny and warm? Or somewhere that lets you enjoy the ice and cold in the best ways possible?

To make that decision easier for you, here are 5 European cities that you could visit in the dead of winter, with the assurance that you would come out of the vacation phase with a smile on your face.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a city that is synonymous with sunshine, warmth, and some of the world’s most breathtaking architecture.

The temperature rarely drops below 45 degrees even in the coldest months of the year. While the sunshine remains present amidst the rainy days. This means that you can enjoy the best effects of winter without having to endure the worst of them.

If you happen to be a fan of football, then these effects can be increased by several times. This beautiful city is home to one of the greatest football clubs of all time and with Barcelona FC in contention for a championship virtually every year, odds are you’ll be walking out with a smile on your face after watching a win. Not a bad way to take a break from the beach!

Athens, Greece

While you wouldn’t be able to go to Mount Olympus’ mythical version in this day and age, you can still experience Greece’s magnificence through the beautiful city of Athens.

Like Barcelona, Athens also sees rare drops in temperature while being consistent around 45 degrees throughout the heaviest months in winter. With the architecture that you can experience under the sun, this weather can actually be ideal for an exploratory walk.

And if you are a fan of Greek food, then checking out local restaurants for authentic dishes would only add to the overall experience of your trip.

Venice, Italy

Since Italy is full of some of the most breathtaking architecture in the world, it would be quite debatable to say that Venice is the crown jewel of the country in terms of structural beauty.

But it is.

From the way that the city has been designed to the manner that the buildings have been developed, Venice remains a breathtaking sight for anyone who visits it.

That remains true even in the months of winter, where the does drop to around 30 degrees, but still provides the tourists and inhabitants with a way to enjoy the magnificent sights under the sun.

Zugspitze, Germany

Germany is considered to be one of the coldest countries in Europe, but it is a good thing for those who enjoy a bit of snow during their travels.

And for those who do, there are perhaps not many places that are as marvelous as Zugspitze in terms of a memorable winter experience.

With snow covered mountains and a temperature that dances around -14 degrees in winter, you can enjoy an array of winter sports such as skiing, sledding, and snowboarding to your heart’s desire. If you are one to enjoy snow and everything good there is about the season of winter, then Zugspitze is the place to go.

Marseilles, France

While Paris gets quite cold in winter without the weather enhancing any effects of life within the city, Marseille seems to be quite the opposite. The city is as lively in the winter as it is during its busiest days in summer, with plenty to do in adjacent areas.

You may visit the many architectural sites and tourist attractions in Marseilles itself, but you can add to that experience when you choose to visit the Christmas markets in Aix en Provence or Avignon.

With that, the many warm and steamy French soups and bouillon based dishes that you can enjoy in Marseilles only add to the trip. This means that by the time you are done with your visit to Marseilles, you are bound to be fed well, have some goods in your shopping bags, and some memorable pictures in your phone to boot.

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Europe

Even the Most Expensive Cities Have Cheaper Alternatives: Paris

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According to the results of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Worldwide Cost of Living” survey, Singapore, Paris, Zurich, Hong Kong, and Oslo are the most expensive places to live – and visit – this year. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit them, though – actually if your budget allows it, you should cross them off your bucket list as soon as you can. But this doesn’t mean you have to break all your piggy banks and sell your soul only to spend a weekend in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Unless you’re adamant that it’s “Paris or bust”, there are alternatives to this crowded and top-dollar destination you might want to consider – and start saving for your dream trip nonetheless.

Lyon

Lyon has a history of almost two millennia, and it shows: the remains of the Roman settlement Lugdunum, built at the confluence of the rivers Saône and Rhône, are showing to this day. Lyon might not be a capital city – it doesn’t have the size or the population – but its role in the everyday life of France was always important, both as a trade and a cultural hub.

The city has many gorgeous sights to see, like the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the Tour Métallique (a tall TV tower that replicates the top of the Eiffel Tower), among others, covering every age from the birth of the city to its modern times. Plus, it has museums, parks, gardens, and a street art group that has been designated the cultural ambassador for the city. Not to mention its cuisine, the unique and popular Lyonnaise cuisine that has become a worldwide sensation.

Lille

A relatively small city in the north of France, Lille is another charming alternative to a crowded and overpriced Paris. It features many distinct architectural styles, most of them with a clear Flemish influence. Among its landmarks, you find its Cathedral (Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille), its Citadel, its palaces, and gardens. Lille is also the place with the biggest flea market in Europe – Braderie de Lille takes place on the first Sunday of September, with millions of attendees and over 10,000 sellers gathering in the streets of the city. It’s a charming, agreeable, and colorful city that will offer its visitors a beautiful experience.

Strasbourg

Last but not least, let us mention a city with a double significance – on one hand, it’s the official seat of the European Parliament, on the other, it’s a wonderful place to visit and a great alternative to an overcrowded Paris.

Strasbourg is a place where French and German architecture mingle in a unique way, with an Old Town filled with timber-framed houses surrounding typical French landmarks and churches. It also has many notable parks, some with historic significance, and almost too many museums for its small size. Plus, it’s a distinctively multicultural city where visitors will find it easy to fit in.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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