Travel Diary: Dalmatian Olive Oil

olive oil watercolor artprint
Handlettering “Olive Oil” by Ekaterina Koroleva

Before you ask, I’m not turning My Chest of Wonders into a travel blog. On the other hand, there were some aspects to the late summer vacay we took to the Croatian Adriatic that you guys can surely relate to: food, of course.

We were pondering the number of visits to our southern neighbour’s amazing seaside with the Fiance on the 8-hour drive, but couldn’t come up with a figure. Many, many times. Only thing that’s sure is that my first trip to the country was in 1997, shortly after the Yugoslav War.

Croatia can roughly be divided into 3 regions: Mainland including the capital city, the peninsula of Istria close to Italy, and coastal Dalmatia, people and culture being different in each territorial unit. That includes architecture, dialects, and you guessed, cuisine too. From a culinary point of view the seaside is more interesting to me, thanks to the Mediterranean and Italian-influenced eating habits.

We got some cloudy days, and admittedly there’s not much to do in the tiny seaside settlements when you can’t go to the beach. That is why we were thrilled to have found a brochure on the reception desk advertising olive oil tasting in Marušići, the next village just a kilometer down the winding coastal road. Off we went, and what an experience it was!

Naturally, olive oil is widely available at home too, but it’s quite a new addition to the average Hungarian kitchen. Even my parents’ generation was raised on meals prepared with lard. Yes, that is pig fat, horrific as it may sound for some (note to self: write an entry in its defence). Ok Fruzsi, focus. Since Hungary’s climate is not suitable for growing olives general knowledge, or at least mine for sure, is quite limited when it comes to olive oil.

Well, Orgula and our lovely hostess Bojana changed that for us. We had the pleasure of trying 3 different extra virgin olive oils accompanied with local delicacies, and got a tour of the olive mill too. You have to go see it for yourself, but here’s a teaser trailer:

The beginnings of olive growing in Dalmatia date back to the late Bronze Age. It is estimated that around 4.5 million olive trees are thriving in the barren soil today with Oblica, an indigenous variety taking up the majority of olive groves.

olive tree with the sea

On the steep south-facing karst slopes unsuitable for irrigation and machine farming, the finest quality olive oil with moderate bitterness and pungency and a strong smell of fresh olive fruit is still produced mostly within family farms. This is what you call heritage.

It takes 10 to 15 kg of olives, harvested manually in the late autumn months, to make 1 liter of oil, the intensity of taste depending on the maturity of the fruit (the riper the olives, the milder the oil).

olive oil tasting

Orgula extracts oil with cold-press method in the modern mill for a commission and also sells its own branded products on the spot. The guided oil tasting, somewhat similar to a wine tasting, takes place on the terrace with a spectacular view of the sea and island Brač under clear skies, or in the tasting room if weather’s bad.

orgula olive oil tasting cups

This tapas-like culinary experience is perfect as a light lunch or dinner. All the food we had along the oils (fresh and aged cheese, various breads, sea salt, wine and non-alcoholic drinks) were locally made and organic, served on the most amazing olive wood trays.

dalmatian tapas

Our sincerest compliments to the company for this initiative creating a new attraction for the tourism palette and surprising a couple who thought they’d seen all Dalmatia has to offer. A great spot you’d be sorry to miss on your next trip to the Adriatic. Can’t wait to open the bottle of Premium, Orgula’s most intense and characteristic oil favored by locals, to offer our family and friends to enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I’ve visited, and used services offered by business establishments mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such entities represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

Images © Orgula Group

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