Anybody who has visited Croatia at least once knows that the olive oil is the symbol of Dalmatia and Istria. Poems are written and documentaries shot about the olive, and this is a plant many in Croatia live off. And they also make the best oil. This is testified by the fact that Istria has been the best region in the world in the production of the extra virgin olive oil for the fourth time in a row. Indigenous varieties, fertile soil, microclimate – are only parts of the recipe for winning this flattering title.
It would be a pity if you came to Croatia and did not taste the liquid gold, as they affectionately call the olive oil. It can also serve as couvert, marinade, natural preservative, solvent for storage of herbs and food and as fat during the preparation of cakes and desserts. Culinary experts will always suggest that mild, sweet oils best pair with fish, while spicier oils better match bitter vegetables such as radicchio and rocket. Oils with mild flavour and fruity aroma can be used for salads and added to already prepared dishes or used in making desserts.
The best olive oil has the “extra virgin” designation. It should not have strong odour and taste because such taste is usually reflection of rancidity. The best oil is odourless or when it has odour, it is the odour of fruit or grass. The flavour of the oil can resemble the olive fruit, tropical fruit or grass. A desirable characteristic is also spiciness or mild bitterness that is felt in the throat.
If you go to Dalmatia on vacation, we recommend that you stop at the Maslina i vino (Olive and Oil) Agricultural Cooperative, located in Ravni Kotari, about eight kilometres away from Biograd na Moru. Thirteen years ago, 12 thousand olive trees, 50 thousand vines and 800 fig trees were planted on 50 acres of the fire-affected “karst,” all in environmental-friendly production. They offer to tourists everything the latter want, and also everything they need to get familiar with high quality olive oil.
- You will recognose quality oil by the density, colour, and odour. We explain all that to our guests and then take them for a tour through the entire property. We have different offers for guests, and we offer them olive oil, prosciutto, cheese, bread ... They can also visit our oil mill, and if they arrive during the harvest they can see how the production process takes place – says Ivana Bobanović from the Maslina i vino Cooperative, whose oil has been granted several prestigious awards.
That the guests appreciate quality is well-known to the Grubić family in Bale whose oil mill is gladly visited by tourists. In addition to buying and tasting oil, they can also learn a lot.
- This is in fact real professional tasting. We also present them the modern processing plant, the tasting room ... But they can also see the original 1927 plant, which worked until 1965, when it closed due to “obsolescence.” Afterwards, over many years, the building deteriorated until 1990s when our family bought and restored it, combining the past and the future of the Istrian olive growing under one roof – they told us in the mill.
Roberto Vošten from the Vošten Oil Mill at the village of Vošteni in Sveti Lovreč, western Istria says that he is very happy when tourists are able to recognise quality olive oil.
- If you are not well familiar with olive oil, then there is always somebody who can deceive you. And we always tell this to people. Therefore, we always offer them oil that is not good to compare with ours. And people see the difference immediately – says Roberto who also offers his home-made goat’s milk cheese to the guests. And how good is his oil is evidenced by the fact that it has won numerous medals at evaluations in Istria and Dalmatia and has been included in the world’s prestigious Flos Olei guide.
In addition to being healthy and delicious, olive oil is also in the service of beauty. It makes one’s hair shiny and beautiful and ensures longevity.