Stressful week before midterms? Don’t fret, just take a trip to do some olive oil and wine tasting!
Ok, so maybe my friends back home can’t do that… but that’s exactly what some of us Temple students did before we hit the books!
We spent our class-free Friday exploring the Umbria region of Italy where we visited the “Monini” olive oil company, the “Novelli” wine company, and “Grazia,” the oldest ceramics company in Deruta.
I’m starting to see a trend… it seems like I still haven’t been able to break my habit of keeping my camera in my bag… I’m not sure where this blog (or my collection of pictures for when I return home) would be if I didn’t travel almost everywhere with my friend, Kate. She deserves credit for all the pictures I used for this post, and even though I promise to make a better effort to pull my camera out every once in a while, you’ll probably still be seeing a vast majority of her pictures in posts to come.
At Monini we learned what differentiated an olive oil from being good and great. Our tour started with a brief background the growing of olives and the prime time to harvest them. We even learned about the different picking methods, and which ones were better than others.
*Tip for anyone looking to produce their own olive oil, pick your olives off of the tree, DON’T pick them up off the ground. They’ve already started fermenting at that point and won’t be as delicious.
Once we finally got our hands on some olive oil we learned how to tell if an olive oil was good using our senses. First, we warmed the cups in our hands to heat it up and “release the scents.” Within a matter of seconds the whole room filled with the smell of olive oil, and trust me, nobody was complaining.
Then our host told us we were going to be tasting the olive oil… great! What’s better than some Italian bread and world renowned olive oil? Only thing is… we didn’t get any bread. That’s right; we were going to “drink” the olive oil. I have to make something clear though, by drink the olive oil I don’t mean toss it back by the cup, we’re talking about the size of a teaspoon.
Our host showed us several times the steps that go into tasting an olive oil, and then it was our turn. Not only is this process kind of funny, but also shows you a taste of olive oil that you’ve never experienced before.
Once the tasting was over we were treated to some bruschetta outside. While there are several varieties to bruschetta, the original version is only three ingredients: bread, salt, and olive oil.
After our olive oil tasting we were off to our next destination, Novelli. Here we sampled several wine including sparkling, white, and red. We learned about the color, density, tiers, and speeds of different wines, and the long process that goes behind making them.
Grazia ceramics is the oldest producer of ceramics in Deruta. Their family tradition dates back as early as the 12th century, and there products are seen all over the world. While not cheap, each piece is not only hand sculpted, but also hand painted. We were greeted by the current owner, Ubaldo Grazia, who took us through Grazia’s entire process of producing ceramics.
With Deruta being known for their ceramics, our final destination was a few doors down to another local ceramic shop (that was much cheaper!) where we were able to all get our ceramic fixes without breaking our banks.
We returned to Rome in the early evening, and as much as we didn’t want to, it was time to study for finals. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Spring break is less than a week away!