Galician Olive Oil
While most people associate Spanish olive oil with the south of Spain, particularly Andalucía, people here in Galicia have been quietly making the stuff for centuries now, though admittedly in minute quantities. Once one of the most prolific Spanish olive oil producing regions, catastrophe struck in the late fifteenth century when the Crown ordered the felling of practically all the trees in the Valley of Quiroga in the province of Lugo. This was intended as a right royal slap in the face for the local feudal lords who had committed the heinously treasonous act of backing the wrong horse during the dynastic wars of the period. Thankfully, a few of these olive bearing beauties survived in the more remote parts of the valley, thus providing the seed for the quiet resurgence of the variety in recent times. One top producer in this revival is Manuel Mondelo Rodríguez, a lovely chap who proudly welcomes visitors to his winery and almazara (olive press). Manuel has won prestigious awards for both his wines and his olive oil. While there we tasted both, but for the purposes of this post, which is to bring Manuel’s olive oil to the attention of those who might be unaware of it, I’ll get to the point. The colour is dark yellow to amber with a touch of recently mown lawn in the nose whilst on the tongue there’s a lovely smokiness, coupled with herbal tones and a pleasing, prickly piquancy as it enters the throat. Though we tried it with crusty bread it would be just fabulous drizzled onto toast lightly rubbed with a sliver of garlic. Unlike other so-called Galician olive oils, Aceiroga is made entirely from Quiroga Valley single estate olives, pressed, bottled and packaged in Galicia. Production is quite limited so I very much doubt that Manuel has a distributor in the US or the British Isles. However, if you’re heading to Galicia in the near future, do look out for it at quality delicatessens such as Juncal Alimentación in lovely Pontevedra, undoubtedly one of the best in Spain.
Manuel Mondelo Rodríguez
Deli heaven: Juncal Alimentación Pontevedra. www.juncalalimentacion.com