Producing over 45 percent of the world’s olive supply, it’s no wonder that Spanish olive oil is a hot commodity. In fact, Spain’s “liquid gold” is a staple of Spanish diet and is enjoying its moment in the sun. Being the epicenter of all that is hip, Malaga, is the place to sample, taste and enjoy the nectar of the gods. Visitors to Andalusia’s second largest city, can savor the region’s hottest export at trendy tapas bars, award-winning restaurants, open-air markets or at any one of the many mills that surround the city. Before jetting off on your next Spanish holiday, its imperative that you understand the nuances of the olive and its oils.
As any Malagan will tell you, bread, wine and olive oil are the mainstays of their diets. It’s safe to assume that the ancient tradition of olive oil pressing is as intricate and refined as winemaking. Extra virgin olive oil is created by grinding the olives into a paste and then pressing to extract the oil. Because there is no heat involved while pressing, the process is known as, “cold-pressed.” Andalusians have been creating extra virgin olive oil using this method for centuries. This method maintains the olives’ antioxidants and monosaturated fats which provide the foundation of olive oil’s health benefits. Conversely, pure olive oil is refined and may be chemically treated. It is created using heat which lowers its antioxidant properties. Like grapes, there are hundreds of varieties of olives each with its own flavor characteristics. Let’s explore a few of Andalusia’s most prominent olive varieties:
Picudo – Oil made from piduco olives is well-balanced and sweet with a light taste and smell slightly reminiscent of exotic fruit. It is particularly well-suited for use on grilled vegetables, fish and carpaccio. The Mueloliva Mill produces a 100% picudo oil that has garnered international acclaim.
Verdial – A mild olive oil with very little bitterness, this oil is well-suited for gazpachos and marinades
Hojiblanca – Hojiblanca oils have an intense green color with sweet and bitter flavors making it ideal for baking bread and making pasta and pastries. Sample award-winning Hojiblanca oil from Finca la Torre. This farm located in Bobadilla, Malaga has been producing olive oil since 1260! Covering nearly 1,000 acres, this olive estate is home to an estimated 33,000 trees of Hojiblanca, Arbequina, Cornicabra and Picudo varieties.
Want to learn more about Hojiblanca oil? Located within the heart of Malaga province is Antequera where you can visit The Hojiblanca Oil Museum. Here, you’ll learn about the culture surrounding olive oil, olives and olive trees and its impact on the people of Andalusia. The museum features mills from the 1st, 17th and 19th centuries. Be sure to partake in an olive oil tasting as well.
If tastings sound like fun, consider visiting one of Malaga’s top eateries, Los Patios de Beatas. A typical private group tasting will last 45 minutes and is led by a sommelier that will share the history of olive oil while the group samples four different oils along with an assortment of tapas.
Discover what all the buzz is about and sample the world’s best olive oils in Malaga!
Providing unsurpassed knowledge, contact the team at Tourist Office of Spain in Chicago for assistance booking your Andalusian adventure.