ralo 2018 PRE-ORDER "NEW HARVEST" NEWSLETTER
Monday, April 16, 2018
[Pre-Order Deadline: 11:59:59 pm, Sunday, April 22, 2017]
This year's Newsletter, like spring, is a little slow in arriving.
We are a proud "Slow Food" supplier, that takes its role seriously... and at a nice'n'easy, steady pace...
Though there may be fewer words, there are at least as many photos as in other years.
Recall that "a picture is worth a thousand words".
(If you doubt this and want proof, I could always invite you to a viewing of my 60,000+ photos taken over two decades and listen to my descriptions of each. For those who take me up on this offer, we assume no liability for hearing loss due to excessively loud snoring, especially your own).
IN BRIEF: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The "Harvest Fresh" Pre-Order prices are now in effect until Sunday, April 22, 2018 at midnight. Place your order now for savings at discounted prices.
The best harvest in decades.
Good yield. Unbelievable quality. More and stronger flavours than usual.
Three fresh organic oils: ARGOLID with IONIAN and KORONI returning after last year's absence.
We also have last year's non-organic 42Trees which offers smooth, fruity flavour that has mellowed beautifully, and less than a dozen tins of last year's organic ARGOLID.
And of course we still have our excellent Balsamic Vinegar, organic olive oil soap (white and brown), and limited quantities of wild oregano.
We return to Market on Saturday, May 5, 2018. Remember we are at Market on Saturdays only.
Save by pre-ordering.
See below for pre-order details and for Pre-Market pickup dates in Waterloo.
NEW THIS YEAR: "The Best Table Olive in Greece"
We are excited to introduce a new supplier and packaging format for gigantic olives this year.
These olives are a mid-range optimal size to absorb the crafted flavours of a family proprietary recipe using all-natural methods, processes and ingredients which include sea salt, Florina red peppers, cumin, orange zest and celery leaves, all in extra-virgin olive oil. They are packaged in 250g clear vacuum packs.
They come direct from a young couple who with great care and passion grow, harvest, select and cure their gigantic olives using a "classic" recipe that was designated by award as "The Best Table Olive in Greece".
Seeing how the growers are involved in every step of the process from planting trees, to harvesting, selecting, curing and packaging the olives, their "hands-on", traditional approach is all about quality. The Professor, wherever he is, would be proud...
THE BACKSTORY TO THE YEAR THAT ALMOST WASN'T...
THE COLOURS OF OLIVES IN THE DRIEST OF SEASONS
Last year's growing season (2017) was one of the driest in recent memory.
When I arrived in Greece in October it had not rained a drop for several months. Growers everywhere were extremely worried. The trees, thirsty for water, drew back moisture from the fruit to survive. This caused some olives to wrinkle.
In some groves, the olives had already turned black on one side of the grove, while on the other side the olives were still green. In others, the olive colour was in between. Some of these differences were attributable to watering while others to olive variety, sun exposure, and other intangible factors.
From dark and wrinkled, to dark and plump, to robust red, to firm all-green olives.
In one grove it depended on which side of the road the trees were, and yet to the puzzled observer it would seem that these trees would receive almost identical sun, moisture etc. So, what's going on here?
When I visited a research nursery which boasts the largest number of olive varieties in the smallest area (not a phone booth), I asked the olive tree scientist why one tree in a planter had green olives and the one immediately beside it had dark black olives. He answered:
"They are both the same variety, or what we speak of as the same variety. However each olive on a tree, if planted, would produce a slightly different variation of the parent variety. In some cases the offspring have completely different natures and behave completely differently. Much like children of the same parents..."
In another grove it depended on the tree. Outside the olive press see-through mesh bags gave a rare glimpse to an even rarer phenomenon of how differently olives can ripen on the same tree or even in the same grove.
The olives in individual sacks ranged from all black, to mostly black, to mostly green, to a mix of each and one bag (see top bag in first photo on left below) where the bottom half of the bag had all green olives and the top half all black olives.
Though the grower was not there to confirm my hunch, this probably represented the top half and bottom half of the same tree (top half receives more sun and thus ripens at a faster pace).
The entire spectrum of ripening colours, likely within a single grove, and a single tree.
MOST SAVED BY NOVEMBER RAINS BUT, IN SOME PLACES...
Just when many feared that all would be lost due to the lack of rain, with many areas seeing olives dropping from the trees in late October, the rains came. Almost two straight weeks of rain, the first two weeks of November. Jubilation!
...but in some places, at times instead of rain, fell a catastrophic hail...Where there was hail, the year was lost. One agronomist I spoke to told me that in one area near Corinth 30,000 trees were stripped bare of olives (and leaves) by the hail. Bowed heads, consternation and wringing of hands...a glance to "next year" to take the mind off lost revenue and debts that have to be paid.
The capriciously savage and risky nature of farming was chillingly on display.
An unwelcome guest...
A HARVEST IN THE ARGOLID (Yes, this is the grove our "ARGOLID" oil comes from)
I enjoy visiting all of our growers but weather plays havoc with the best laid plans. This year, with all of the rains, I managed to meet up with the Argolid grower during harvesting and at the olive press.
After leaving this farm, I take a few sample bottles with me and "one for the road". I may be the only driver in the Peloponisos who drinks oil straight from the bottle, but don't worry I have a hawk's eye out for "RIDE" checks as I would have a lot of 'splainin' to do about "what's that 'green stuff' in the bottle we saw you drinking from?"
At the grove...the harvest in progress.
At the olive press: on time for the pressing appointment, so no wait...
From olives, to paste, to wondrous green-gold oil...
An elixir most precious... oh, I forgot to mention the most delicious organic oranges fresh-from-the-tree...
COLOUR CAN BE DECEIVING: MORE & STRONGER FLAVOUR FOR THIS YEAR'S FRESH NEW OILS
Where there was rain (and no hail), not only was the year saved but the olive fruit recovered and produced oils of extremely high quality.
Though one would normally expect dark-skinned olives to exhibit signs of ripeness through towards the pit, this wasn't the case. The ripening was only "skin-deep", with the result that even dark olives produced oil with increased levels of polyphenols and extremely low acidity. For the first time I heard the paradoxical phrase which roughly translates to "unripe ripe olives".
And, where the olives were mostly or all-green, the intensity of flavour and polyphenols were heightened even more.
This year's oils are thus stronger in flavour than you may be used to. This means that you will detect ample bitter, spice and fruity notes.
The quality is extraordinary and probably the best in the past 50 years.
The intensity will subside over the next few months and the flavour they will impart to your salads and dishes will be incredible, raising your creations to another level. (If you share folk beliefs about the "aphrodisiac" qualities of olive oil and its effect on men's "potency", then as Monty Python fans would say "...nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more, say no more...")...
These are the healthiest oils that nature has given in quite a while.
THE VARYING COLOURS OF FRESH OILS
These sample bottles of oils I gathered are all from mostly- or all-green olives. See how the colour varies from yellow-gold to an almost neon green.
Colour is not an indicator of quality and the colour of the olive fruit is not a reliable indicator of the colour of the resulting oil.
THE 42 TREES NON-ORGANIC OIL & LAST YEAR'S ARGOLID
Our non-organic 42 TREES oil is the same oil as we had last year (ie pressed in Nov/Dec 2016).
It has a luscious mouth feel, with tones of green grass, herbs, olive fruit and a lively peppery finish. It has mellowed beautifully since last year into a wonderfully flavoured oil. Those of you who prefer a milder or lighter tasting oil and are concerned that the fresh 2018 organic oils may be too strong for you would do well to consider this option.
We also have less than a dozen tins of last year's organic ARGOLID. This oil is mild, light, smooth and buttery.
Both of these oils, properly stored, will keep well into 2019.
THE FLAVOUR SPECTRUM
In order of increasing flavour, strength and intensity, the available oils are:
If you are a "mild or light olive oil person" and are at all concerned about whether you can handle the fresh oils, we are confident that you or at least your bodies are ready. Over the past 18 years we have been preparing you.
If you want to hedge your bets and gradually work your way towards the fresh oils, we recommend that you start with a tin of last year's ARGOLID" or last year's 42 Trees, to hold you over until some of the edge of the fresh oils softens.
2018 PRE-ORDER PRODUCTS & PRICES:
To recap, we have a total of four (4) oils to choose from in 2018:
(NOTE: 5L Tins may differ in appearance from photos below)
NEW OIL TO BE RELEASED FOR PICKUP LATE APRIL 2018
The fresh olive oil has arrived!
PRE-MARKET PICKUP DATE(S) & TIMES: at 356 Cambria Place, Waterloo N2L 2N9
Pre-orders will be available for pick-up at the following dates and times by prior arrangement:
FIRST MARKET DAY: SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018
Our First Day at St. Jacobs Market will be Saturday, May 5, 2018.
Please check your emails and our website homepage in case of any unexpected changes (eg if the Ice Age is here to stay)
PRE-ORDER DEADLINE: Sunday, April 22, 2018
You have until Sunday, April 22, 2018 at midnight to place your pre-orders.
To get the pre-order discount you must meet that cut-off date by following the Pre-Order Procedure set out below.
2018 PRE-ORDER PROCEDURE
(Deadline Sunday, April 22, 2018 at midnight):
Thank you again for your continued support
We look forward to seeing you at the Market in May.
Robert and Deborah
ralo extra virgin olive oil
Call Deborah at: 519-574-1335 or email at email@example.com
Call Robert at: 519-580-0189 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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A MOST BEAUTIFUL OLIVE TREE
... yes, this is from last year's Newsletter... but we love it so... and here's a fruitful couple from this year...
THE KORONI HARVEST
... a grove near the sea...where wild thyme grows and blossoms, even in winter...
"Organic Farming" sign, insect control, ... and filled olive sacks awaiting transport to the press...
...more sacks of olives ... and one grove-ey feline...
The Koroni oil, from olive to fresh-pressed oil...
...view to the east at sunset, proves you don't always have to look West...
THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (MOUNT ATHOS)
When the rains came, I managed to make a last-minute detour (quite a detour) to northeastern Greece, and the Chalkidiki peninsula which is home to the "males only" Mount Athos community of monasteries and monks.
There is some fascinating history and some interesting things happening olive-wise on the holy mountain, but we'll leave that discussion to another time...
...scenes in Ouranoupolis [the City of the Sky (Heaven?)], and a fisherman preparing his nets by the sea, near the restricted border area to the holy peninsula
...view to the south along the east coast, and three of the monasteries I visited
...and yes, a modern small-scale olive press producing this year's fresh oil for the monastery
... fresh-from-the-garden produce and fresh-out-of-the-wood-burning-outdoor-oven fish, near a tired chair
... and when time is up, to the dock we go
THE ISLAND OF HYDRA (think Leonard Cohen)
A short ferry-boat ride (pedestrians only)... to a harbour most-lovely...
Alley wandering has its own rewards, and curious observers as in the middle photo...ah, fresh lemons!
No private motorized vehicles..., only donkeys (the four-legged kind, in this context)
THE ISLAND OF SPETSES (think William Styron)
A museum in a mansion once owned by a Hero for liberty, 1821... an outdoor double bread oven...
A black "VW CATS"... and a lady in red, passing under red bougainvillea in the rain
Humpty Dumpty, before the fall...and, in such times as these, even beauty needs a gas mask...
Tower of winds,... blue sky, sun & clouds
Ancient cemetery, ... and ok, not in Athens, but the blue of this bay near Corinth was joyously mesmerizing
A GROVE RECLAIMED, & ITS HARVEST IN PICTURES
... and of course a few words.
This is one of my family's two olive groves on the banks of the Neda River, within a deep gorge of the same name that is situated approximately 65 km northwest of Kalamata. Believe it or not, this grove was cleared in 2015. There has been so much rain and the soil is so fertile that thorns have proliferated and taken over.
Using a primitive tool (a scythe), over the course of approximately five days (interrupted here and there by rains and visits to growers etc etc), I cleared the grove not knowing if I would even have time to harvest the olives and press them into oil. There were few olives on the trees, with many of the prematurely darkened olives having fallen to the ground. At most I would get one to two dozen litres of oil.
The grove is called "Bridge" or "Crown", in reference to the crowns used in the traditional Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony. This grove was part of the dowry our mother took into her marriage and most of the trees were planted by our parents as newlyweds in the early 1950s.
It was a sacred task to clear this grove and at the start I had serious doubts about whether I would be able to do it. It was tiring, pricky and prickly work, but a vexing uncertainty delayed my departure from the village and allowed me to accomplish what I set out to do. An achievement reached, a pilgrimmage completed. Most satisfying.
On the last day when heavy clouds and a forecast of all-day rain threatened to stop my harvesting and leave it undone, the sky suddenly cleared and a sunburst of rays that seemed to travel along with the migrating opening in the clouds exploded into view, nearly knocking me out of the tree I was standing in (...the literal tree)...
The last day: olives cleaned of twigs and leaves (mostly), in sacks, gathered with the harvesting nets and tools, loaded into the "rented harvesting vehicle", and taken to the olive press, which by this time, was in full swing...
The sacks of others... ...and the fruit of my labours, ready to bring home...