` Record Attendance, Sales at Les Garrigues Exhibition - Olive Oil Times

Record Attendance, Sales at Les Garrigues Exhibition

Jan. 22, 2013
Julie Butler

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Gregori Canalias, head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism of Lleida

About 60,000 liters of extra vir­gin olive oil — 20 per­cent more than last year — were sold at the Extra Virgin Olive Oil Exhibition held in the small Catalan town of Les Borges Blanques Friday to Sunday.

And despite chilly, wet weather, orga­niz­ers say the num­ber of vis­i­tors, 68,000, was also a record for the event, which this year attracted about 20 pro­duc­ers of olive oil, many of them coop­er­a­tives.

Les Borges Blanques is in the dis­trict of Les Garrigues, home to Spain’s old­est olive oil des­ig­na­tion of ori­gin, and part of the province of Lleida, one of Catalonia’s main olive oil regions and about 100 miles inland from Barcelona.

At the Fira de l’Oli,” pro­duc­ers offered a wide range of pack­ag­ing sizes, includ­ing cruet-style 250ml bot­tles and spray packs but it was not uncom­mon to see fam­i­lies buy­ing 2- and 5‑liter plas­tic con­tain­ers of extra vir­gin olive oil, at about €10 ($13) and €20 ($26) respec­tively, and gift packs and fla­vored olive oils seemed pop­u­lar.

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Along with cheeses, sausages and pas­try goods, also on sale were packs of dried olive stones and fur­naces in which to burn them as a cheaper alter­na­tive to oil-based home heat­ing.

Olive oil-snail syn­ergy

Lleida is known for its arbe­quina olive oil and also as the Spanish cap­i­tal of snail gas­tron­omy. The two com­ple­ment each other as it is pop­u­lar to eat los cara­coles” with ali­oli” a gar­lic may­on­naise tra­di­tion­ally made with olive oil.

Seizing on this, an agree­ment was announced at the exhi­bi­tion under which the major Aplec snail fes­ti­val will now pro­mote Les Garrigues extra vir­gin olive oil dur­ing its tour of Spain.

Students from the School of Hospitality and Tourism of Lleida also cap­i­tal­ized on the con­nec­tion, pro­vid­ing sam­ples of a snail pate, and other vari­a­tions of regional fare — such as la coca de recapte” (Catalan-style pizza), esqueix­ada” (dried cod salad), and locally-grown pears — using olive oil to high­light nat­ural fla­vors.

Gregori Canalias, head of the school, told Olive Oil Times its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the exhi­bi­tion aimed to stim­u­late cre­ativ­ity and show­case local gas­tron­omy. Among sam­ples pro­vided to vis­i­tors this year were olive oil ravi­oli and an olive leaf tea sweet­ened with ste­via.

The instruc­tions for the tea are sim­ple: infuse 40g of olive tree leaves in 1l of water at 90C for 10 min­utes then sweeten with ste­via. But Canalias said tasks set for the school’s stu­dents for the next fair include per­fect­ing a jel­lied ver­sion of it.

Stevia is a nat­ural sweet­ener and the olive tree leaf has many health prop­er­ties that we are only just dis­cov­er­ing,” he said.

We hope to develop a great-tast­ing dessert that is not quite a med­i­cine, but nearly. That will be one of next year’s sur­prises.”



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