Upon opening a new bottle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), the aromas of fresh cut grass and green almond waft into your nose. It is so intense that you might exclaim: “What an Extra Virgin” or, if you are a Spaniard, “Qué Virgen Extra.” This is the slogan that led to the naming of QvExtra! and sums up the philosophy behind the international association.
In order to deliver a product of excellence to consumers, QvExtra! has developed the quality called SIQEV (Seal for International of Quality Extra Virgin) that the group says guarantees that the EVOO in the bottle complies with standards more vigorous than those set by the International Olive Council, and displays a best by date.
More than 50 brands that now carry the seal. Producers of Tunisia, Uruguay, Portugal, Turkey, and Lebanon have become members of the association. And Israel and France have signed special agreements with QvExtra!.
The growing international support for QvExtra! was evident on March 15th as professionals from Tunisia, Spain, the United States, Israel, Jordan, Italy, Portugal, Uruguay, Australia, and the UK arrived in Toledo to participate in the the association’s EVOO II Congress: The Great Discovery.
During the congress the president of QvExtra!, Soledad Serrano, and the minister of CEQ Italy, Maria Grazia Minisci, emphasized the importance of international partnership.
To confirm the partnership, an agreement was signed between QvExtra! and CEQ to ensure both Spanish and Italian EVOOs with the SIQEV seal adhere to the same strict standards for quality control and product excellence.
The line up for the congress included professionals who spoke and led roundtable discussions on production, gastronomy, trending markets, and scientific discoveries. Among the speakers were Eryn Balch, executive vice president for the North American Olive Oil Association, and Gary Beauchamp, emeritus director and president at the Monell Chemical Senses Center.
Chefs were also given the spotlight. Tuesday´s lunch was served as a fun yet educative Master Class led by Spanish chef, Alberto Moya Carraffa. Chef Moya Carraffa, owner of El Bogavante de Almirante, stressed the importance of high quality and fresh products, the Mediterranean Diet, good wines and, of course, the use of EVOO. In the class, he demonstrated how each plate changed with different EVOOs.
Each congress participant was presented with the same four tapas prepared with three different olive oils. The class began by tasting the three Spanish mono-varietals: Arbequina, Hojiblanco, and Cornicabra. Then, in an exercise of pairing, tapa-by-tapa, participants tested how each variety affected the flavor of gazpacho, Spanish potato salad, seafood salad, and a sweet jelly candy. The experience had some diners changing the way they perceived EVOO.
QvExtra! plans to organize EVOO events in the United States and in Japan. The next biannual congress will most likely take place in the United States, the group said, and will be co-organized by CEQ Italy and QvExtra! International.