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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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Adventure Travel

Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.

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Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Europe

Amsterdam Food Guide

If you think of Amsterdam you don’t think of food. However if you try the food here in our Amsterdam food guide you might get lucky.

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Amsterdam Food Waffles

We are total foodies and our travelling has allowed our passion for food to grow considerably (not to mention our waist lines)!  We love trying new food when we visit foreign countries and always make a huge effort to eat the local cuisine. Check out some of the food we ate below in our cheap and delicious Amsterdam Food Guide.

Amsterdam Food Waffles

We had heard from a number of people that the Amsterdam food was nothing to rave about. To be honest food was not really our main interest in visiting but then again neither was an Amsterdam Peep show and we ended up enjoying that!

However we were pleasantly surprised. I think the people whom we had talked to had it wrong. Sure Holland doesn’t really have a local cuisine but once we got over this fact we realised there is still some damn good food to be had from the various Amsterdam Restaurants.

Amsterdam Food

The best meal we had was actually next door to the Red Light district in Chinatown. Crossing the canal to the east away from the neon lights your nostrils are attacked and your mouth begins salivating from the delicious smells wafting along the narrow cobbled streets.

As we walked into Bird Thai restaurant the enticing aroma hit us instantly leaving us drooling in anticipation. It was definitely up there with some of the best Thai food we have had. We went for the classic Green curry, fried rice and duck combo.

The Green curry was so flavoursome with the richness of the coconut milk blending perfectly with the traditional spices.  The duck was cooked to perfection and for the first few minutes of the meal all you could hear was the crunching of the crispy outside layer as we devoured the duck in minutes. Needless to say the fried rice was a taste explosion too!

Cheap and delicious Amsterdam food is easy to come by. With hangovers and munchies affecting your hunger it is no surprise that there are an abundance of Fast Food chains and takeaways in Amsterdam. In fact it was actually more the way that the fast food was served that surprised us as you could buy it out of massive vending machines at Febo!

Amsterdam Food Febo

Hidden workers stand behind the vending machines churning out burgers, fries and sausage rolls so all you has to do is insert a Euro and “hey presto” you have a hot meal in your hungry hands.

Then there were the frites stores which seemed to be on every corner. The first thing you noticed about these was the tantalising smell. There is nothing like the smell of chips straight out of the fryer and covered in salt to get you tummy rumbling. Served in a triangle cardboard carton and covered in mayo which meant that that you couldn’t reach the chips at the bottom without covering your greedy fingers in sauce. Just a tad annoying!

But there is nothing like hot chips to warm you up on a cold day.

Finally, while hot chocolates are not typically food I feel they still deserve a mention especially because the usually come paired with waffles! Ahhhh the perfect breakfast.

Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

We loved nipping into a cafe or bar like Cafe Bar Eddy in Amsterdam to warm ourselves up with a hot chocolate. It literally tasted like they had melted chocolate down and added cream. Heaven in a cup. And the choice of waffles was daunting as you could have whatever you wanted. Fruit, chocolate, syrups, cream or all of the above!

If you are heading here then don’t expect to find an array of traditional Amsterdam food. Instead treat yourself to a hot chocolate and waffle for breakfast, grab a quick bite from a vending machine and sample some of the different cuisines found near the Red Light District.

If you stick to this Amsterdam food guide then your taste buds will have a great holiday too!

If you have visited before then what did you think of Amsterdam food?

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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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