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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

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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Europe

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Check out our guide for the first timer in Amsterdam visiting a coffeeshop.

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How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Before getting started I just want to clarify that we are not drug users. We don’t condone using illegal drugs. And we are not telling you to go and smoke weed in Amsterdam. BUT, our goal of this travel blog is to help advise, educate and provide travel tips for ALL situations. So if you are headed to Amsterdam then we hope our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam will help you out.

And check out this smoker friendly accommodation for your next trip.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam Coffeeshop

When you tell people that you are visiting Amsterdam then they immediately think of one thing and one thing only. Weed. Dope. Herb. Buds. Spliff. Whacky Tobbacky. Pot. Marijuana. Cannabis. 

Call it what you will but just know that the biggest name for it is “ILLEGAL”.

Yes it is actually illegal to smoke weed in Amsterdam. But for now the Netherlands government do tolerate smoking in designated “coffeeshops”. This is slowly changing as the Government tries to moderate the tourism drug trade and in 2013 there will be new laws which we won’t go in to now as they are continuously changing.

In the meantime if you obey the rules, are not a moron and use our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam then you are going to be fine.

Smoke weed in Amsterdam

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t smoke weed in Amsterdam in public such as on the streets. There are over 300 designated coffee shops where you are tolerated to smoke weed. These places are regulated and everything is done in the open.

Don’t get confused and try to smoke in a koffiehuis (coffee house) which sells coffee and light meals or a café that is a casual restaurant and/or bar.

The coffeeshops are super easy to spot with marijuana leaves in the windows and Bob Marley paintings on the doors. Not to mention the smell wafting through the cold breeze. There will also be the usual tourists that have stupidly over-indulged and are glassy eyed.

We visited one of the five Bulldog coffeeshops when we were in Amsterdam and had no complaints. We even enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate while we were there!

Bulldog Coffeeshop in Amsterdam

Buying weed in Amsterdam

As long as you are over 18 then you will be allowed to buy up to 5 grams of weed in the regulated coffeeshops. Plus you have the added security knowing that your marijuana is not going to be laced with anything else if you are attempting to buy it off someone on the street. And who knows, they might be setting you up to get busted.

We were (and are) total amateurs and had no idea what to do once we actually stepped foot in the coffeeshop. But quickly sussed it out. There will generally be a “dealer bar” with full menu’s and everything for you to choose. So if you are an expert you will probably know what to order! Prices will of course vary by quantity (grams, bags, individual joints) and quality.

For a beginner ask lots of questions. Don’t be shy like we were. Ask the staff what they recommend and what effects each type has. They will know then that you are a newbie and will guide you. Just know that they are very accustomed to tourists who don’t know exactly how to go about the whole process.

What we found out is that it is actually perfectly fine for you to visit other coffeeshops and smoke weed that you have already purchased somewhere else. However, it is considered rude not to at least buy a hot chocolate or coffee if you do this. Coffeeshops do also have some of the best coffee in Amsterdam.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t be an idiot

Number 1 rule: Don’t smoke too much weed in Amsterdam! Even if you are a pot loving hippie from a commune you are probably going to find the marijuana really strong in Amsterdam. Just take it slow.

If you are enjoying a drink as well then again take it easy with the booze. All the coffeshops won’t sell you beer as well as cannabis.

EAT! Don’t go drinking and smoking on an empty stomach as cannabis lowers your blood sugar level and this can turn a fun day into a disaster if you haven’t eaten recently. Check out our Amsterdam Food Guide for some quick eating tips here.

A final word of warning, please watch out for the spacecake! Eating cannabis will knock you on your ass and is much stronger than when smoked.

Finally, enjoy yourselves and for goodness sake obey the rules, laws and customs while you are smoking weed in Amsterdam.

If you have an addiction to drugs then reach out and seek some help.

Check out these Weed Products for your next travel adventure.

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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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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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