The ancient olive mill, La Moraleda, of Santa Cruz del Valle in Andalucia, Spain, has recently opened a new International Tasting Room as part of the existing Museum of Extra Virgin Olive Oil of Mediterranean Countries.
The town is home to only 444 inhabitants, but due to an initiative from the city council and non-government organization, Gloria Olivae, the small community was put on the olive oil map in 2010 with the opening of the landmark museum, which features traditional olive oil processing equipment.
The new centre already houses 150 different Spanish olive oil samples, but aims to increase this number to 2,500, with olive oils not only from Spain, but also other Mediterranean countries and olive oil producing countries worldwide.
It is hoped that there will be a permanent exhibition established, showcasing high-end olive oil samples as part of a so called oil “library” within the mill.
President of Gloria Olivae, Manuel Ignacio Sánchez Fuentes, has stressed that whilst obtaining a large number of samples was important, quality would also be a focus, and that the display would help bring exposure and publicity to good quality olive oils from around the world.
It is also expected that the centre will feature as part of the Tiétar Valley Olive Oil Route, which is already in planning stages. The centre is hoped to be a meeting place for Mediterranean citizens, through the common bond of olive growing extra virgin olive oil and the Mediterranean diet.
Photos: Diario de Avila
A number of activities based around olive oil from varying disciplines and approaches will be held at the centre, including tasting, diet, gastronomic pairings and targeted lectures for the general public. In addition to this, conferences and debates for experts and representatives of the industry will also be held. Mediterranean diet and olive growing training courses will also be part of the program.
The opening of the centre, which took place on the 20th of May, featured tastings from high end producers such as Oro Bailén from Jaén, Masía El Altet from Alicante and a single varietal of the Sevillian Arbequina, Basilippo de la Hacienda Merrha.
Also available to taste were traditional candies made from olive oil and local lemonade typical to Santa Cruz del Valle. Visitors from the region and also from around Spain and the world, were also able to enjoy traditional music performed by local folk groups and indulge in a typical dessert of the region, Sopetón, which consists of bread baked and soaked in olive oil, which is later coated in sugar and fresh orange juice.
The tasting room will also have a new humanitarian approach, in that it aims to set up a bank accepting donations of olive oil to be sent to food banks, health projects and organizations against hunger around the world.