` Olive Harvest at Turkey's Dionysos Hotel

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Olive Harvest at Turkey's Dionysos Hotel

Nov. 25, 2012
By Gretta Schifano

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As I sipped the pep­pery, pea-green liq­uid, Yaprak, our Turk­ish olive har­vest guide for the day, explained that the Amos oil I was tast­ing was included in the Flos Olei guide to the world’s best extra vir­gin olive oils. The Flos Olei panel judged the oil to be ample and rotund” with ele­gant fruity notes of medium ripe tomato, white apple and banana with hints of basil and mint.“

My fam­ily and I were guests at the Dionysos bou­tique hotel on the Bozbu­run penin­sula in south­west­ern Turkey in Octo­ber and we were tak­ing part in an olive oil tast­ing ses­sion with Yaprak.

The Dionysos hotel is laid out like a pretty vil­lage, its red-roofed build­ings draped in bougainvil­lea, perched on the moun­tain­side above Kum­lubük bay and enjoy­ing views across the Mediter­ranean towards the dis­tant Toros moun­tains.

Ahmet Şenol, genial cre­ator and owner of Dionysos, is pas­sion­ate about food and its prove­nance and the estate’s farm, vine­yard, olive groves and fruit trees pro­duce much of what is needed for the hotel kitchens.

The estate has around 1,500 organic olive trees and the meme­cik olives they pro­duce are pressed on site to make oil. Guests at the hotel dur­ing har­vest time are invited to get involved in the work and learn about olive oil. These olive har­vest week activ­i­ties are entirely optional, and there are plenty of other things to do at Dionysos — it offers a huge infin­ity pool over­look­ing the bay, restau­rants, a spa, a gym, ten­nis and shut­tle buses to the beach and near­est town.

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Har­vest­ing the olives ear­lier that morn­ing had been easy. Isa, the hotel gar­dener, laid down nets on the ground below the trees to catch the olives. He gave us wicker bas­kets and wooden-han­dled olive rakes to comb through the branches. Yaprak explained that the olives’ flavour is spoilt if they touched the ground — hence the nets. Our bas­kets were soon full and we walked through the hotel grounds to the press­ing room to learn how olives are made into oil.

A team of men were hard at work sort­ing, clean­ing and press­ing the olives picked that morn­ing using an Ital­ian Olio Mio press­ing machine. Yaprak told us that an olive’s acid­ity starts to rise as soon as it’s picked and, as extra vir­gin oil needs an acid­ity level of less than 0.8 per­cent, it has to be pro­duced within six hours of har­vest­ing. Amos oil is pressed within three hours of pick­ing the olives. Yaprak then bot­tles the oil as needed, a hun­dred bot­tles at a time for sale in the hotel shop or for use in the kitchens. I’m enjoy­ing using the oil we brought home from our trip, espe­cially as we helped pro­duce it.



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