It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of Cobram Estate extra virgin olive oil. Most of you would know that I use it every day in pretty much everything so I was nothing short of thrilled when I was invited to the olive groves to see how my favourite oil was produced.
The day started with a flight out of Essendon Airport on a private airplane (!) to the olive groves at Boundary Bend in regional Victoria. We flew over thousands of beautiful olive trees and after landing, hopped onto a bus to take a tour of the olive groves. As we drove through the groves we were taught about the differences between olive varieties, how they were sourced from Europe and how each variety brings a different taste to the oil. We also got to climb the olive picker as the olives were getting picked.
After the olives were picked, that’s when all the magic happened! The olives left the trucks and were washed and crushed (seeds and all) to form a pulp. The oil was extracted from this pulp and then stored away from light and oxygen. It was fascinating to see how they were able to preserve all the nutrition and antioxidants by using high quality olives and keeping the finished oil away from light and oxygen (factors that can reduce antioxidants in food). We were able to taste this amazingly fresh oil as it was running out of the extractor and it was insanely delicious. 2 years ago I would have cringed at the idea drinking olive oil from a shot glass but a good quality extra virgin olive oil should never have a greasy mouthfeel and should have a fresh clean mouthfeel.
Then came my favourite part; the food. We had cured ocean trout with pomegranate and micro-herbs, followed by orecchiette with broccoli, anchovy butter, chilli and garlic and to finish a beautifully rich chocolate and plum tart. Naturally all the dishes had olive oil (even the dessert) and it was a great way to see olive oil’s versatility. I loved when Rob (the owner of Cobram Estate) picked up the bottle of First Harvest and drowned his pasta in it. It’s a habit that held on at home and we’ve literally doubled our intake of olive oil! After lunch we were all given our very own bottles of the Limited Edition First Harvest and flew back to Melbourne. All in all, a perfect day.
Airplanes and beautiful lunches aside, extra virgin olive oil is one of my favourite ingredients to cook with and is one of the few foods that is backed by credible science. Extra virgin olive oil, Australian brands in particular, contain high levels of natural antioxidants; are rich in monounsaturated fat (the good kind of fat) and do not contain any trans fat (the bad kind). These antioxidants have a role to play in heart health, can reduce free radicals in the body (thus having and anti-ageing effect) and may reduce inflammation.
So how much extra virgin olive oil should you be having? The Mediterranean diet recommends at least 2-3 tablespoons per day which may seem like a lot for many but once you start incorporating a tasty oil like Cobram Estate into your diet, 2-3 tablespoons is easy.