Few foods tell of the territory with the same strength and the same clarity of extra virgin olive oil: call it ' product’ is wrong, because the oil there is nothing manipulated, of built. It is simply a olive juice. And the production process, from the olive extra virgin olive oil, lasts as long as the blink of an eye, is a kind of arrow which travels in a straight line from tree to bottle. This year, for the first time, I took part in the olive harvest and the production of olive oil. I was lucky enough to make this wonderful experience in my Sicily, Sicilian oil and I want to tell you, not to say that it is the best oil of Italy (land of extraordinarily important oils), but only to convey the emotions that I felt and to make you understand how important it is to use Virgin olive oil quality, Recalling that the price of oil on the shelf of a supermarket will never be less than 8 euros. My journey into the world of oil starts from Memphis, in the province of Agrigento: an area of my island that has in oil, in the wine and fruit and vegetables three key elements of its economy. A land of farmers who now really represents a model for the whole of Sicily, It has managed to recover after the terrible earthquake of Belice and that today is firmly a benchmark for modern agriculture and quality. The occasion was the event Novolio, organized by the cooperative growers The Goccia d'Oro, the owner of the brand Feudotto.
Two days (November 12-13) rich in events and initiatives, they were also an opportunity to present the new Igp Sicily, a seal of quality to which the European Union gave the green light on 12 September 2016. Under this unique symbol, as is currently done for oil Igp, will gather the oils produced in Sicily: a sign of quality because from harvesting to bottling are bound inextricably to the product and the territory. The specification of the Igp Sicily provides constraints: will apply to oils obtained from 28 different regional varieties, for a minimum of 90%. The collection must be made in the period between 1 September and 30 November and oil operations made within 48 hours of collection. The maximum yield of olives should not exceed 24% and every stage of production should take place within the administrative territory of the Sicilian region. Crucial product traceability, that must be ensured through registration in special lists of various plots of land where they grow olive trees.
The District of Memphis, which includes the farmers of trademark Feudotto (all growers of cooperativa La Goccia d'Oro already apply the Protocol Igp Sicily), is an example of good practice, in this area. There are over a thousand hectares of olive groves planted by the prestigious Val di Mazara Dop area, consisting of three varieties known as Biancolilla, Nocellara del Belice and Cerasuola. Every year, two thousand people participate in the olive harvest. Through the site Feudotto, the cooperative helps customers reconstruct the entire production process of the bottle bought: the consumer, by entering a code on the label, will get all the information on the batch number, the format, the date of production, the tanks used, the growing area, the acidity of the oil until the satellite map of the area of production, that shows even the land on which the olives were obtained.
The eight cultivars (variety) most common in Sicily are Biancolilla, Cerasuola, Nocellara of Belice western Sicily; Moresca, Tonda Iblea and Nocellara Etnea in eastern Sicily; in the northern range, Santagatesi and messinese Ogliarola. When Sicily produces six Dop oils: Hyblaean Mountains, Val di Mazara, Valli Trapanesi, Mount Etna, Valle del Belice, Valdemone. In addition, with the Nocellara del Belice, Sicily also holds the Italian record for table olives. Needless to say, the extra virgin olive oil goes daily in the Sicilian and Italian cuisine in General: If you are in the area of Trapani you need to taste the bread ' cunzatu ', that is seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, Salt, tomato, Onion. There are countless variations: with tuma, peppered, tuna, Sun-dried tomatoes, but the extra virgin olive oil of excellence is the common denominator of this dish. Continuing the theme of typical products, Don't miss the preserves, the jams, the local meats, the prickly Artichoke of Memphis What is Slow Food, the fresh tuma, The peppered, the Vastedda del Belice, the marzipan (FRUTTA di Martorana), fresh fish, starting from the famous red prawns of Mazara del Vallo.
If you love sweets, at Memphis must do a step at the bakery Eurocaffè by Giuseppe Bono: sfinci with ricotta, Cannoli, cassate, sighs, small pastry and modern pastry, But even savoury appetizers made with arancini, crushed, turnovers. To be reported: chocolate processing, done so completely handmade and, at Christmas time, large leavened products prepared in delicious variant with extra virgin olive oil: panettone with oil accompanied by a ganache, with a delicate extra virgin olive oil and white chocolate is tops, as well as the filled chocolates with extra virgin olive oil. And still, in season, try the prickly local India: large, with pulp, sweet, served with cinnamon and a little’ honeymoon.
Visit Memphis, talk of oil, of good food and territory inevitably leads to tell the wonderful archaeological and cultural heritage of this part of Sicily. A site about all, to Selinunte (the name derives from the Selinon, the fool's parsley), founded by the Greeks around 629 BC: I could dwell on the beauty of the Acropolis, with its temples, the altars, the necropolis, the shrines, the homes, whose traces are still evident today, but I want to leave you the surprise touching the columns of the Temple of Hera, the only one who was entirely reconstructed using the original materials, Watch the sun set between the columns and the sea that changes color minute by minute. Just remember that Selinunte is housed in a 40-hectare Archaeological Park, the largest in Europe and that, then, It takes time to visit it and be able to soak up the atmosphere. Obviously, If your visit to the area will be in summer, Don't miss the beach of Porto Palo, Blue flag since 1992 and its sand dunes that stretch for about 7 kilometres.
Finally, I give you a hint on where to stay in the area: I recommend the Relais Casa Mirabile, a 17th century house restored with great respect (both in the materials and colours) and furnished with furniture and Sicilian ceramics, with special attention to modern and contemporary art. It also offers traditional cuisine with typical dishes of seasonal ingredients and artisan breakfast with homemade cakes, Sicilian pastry, fruit jellies. A lush garden and a swimming pool complete the offer, But what they forget is the sea that you see shimmering from the Windows of the bedrooms.