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Of olives and olive oil (a trip to Riebeeck Kasteel)

We took the winding N7 up the West Coast to a small Town called Riebeek Kasteel, famous for it’s olives and olive oil and only one hour’s drive from Cape Town. This little town, centered around a beautiful old church on a hill, allows your mind (and your taste buds) to run away with your imagination. Famous for hosting the annual Olive Festival, when thousands of Capetonians flood the dusty streets, there are still many well hidden  delights.

We stayed at 1881 Guest House at Shiraz Estate The building can trace its heritage back to 1881 when the Laubscher family originally farmed tobacco on the Vlakfontein Estate. The homestead provided for spacious rooms, high ceilings, and everything else that was regarded as essential for comfortable living in those days. The farmstead may have changed, but the  house has been restored to its former glory, with great care to preserve the massive Oregon pine ceiling beams, original windows and doors and the classic loft.

 

My brother owns a pizzeria along the main road where locals and tourists sit elbow to elbow savoring crisp wood fired pizza’s showcasing only the best local produce. The café culture and town square oozes Spanish country side… but it’s the cinnamon pancakes and the syrupy sweet koeksisters, South African favorites, that left me with a warm feeling in my heart.
Most of the farms sell a variety of olive products and are more than willing to tell you more about the olive oils they produce. As all successful food outings go, I returned home exhausted at the end of a long day with more olive delicacies than I could carry!

Olive oil Tips and Terms
Things to look out for on the label:
The words ‘Extra Virgin’ must be visible on the label of the olive oil bottle. This is an international term used to identify olive oil of the highest quality.
Look out for the word ’cold pressed’ meaning that no extra heat was used during the pressing process. The temperature must not exceed 30 degrees, as this can result in a bitter flavor.

Beware of a bottle that has the word ‘blend’, this often means that the oil has been blended with inferior olive or sunflower oils.
Tips:
Read the description on the back of the olive oil bottle to find out more about the flavor of the oil. Some labels will even recommend dishes to pair it with!
Olive oils differ in color and flavor depending on when the olives were harvested. Light, fruity oils are best suited for salads or dishes where the oil is added after the cooking process, like oil based pastas.
Stronger, greener oils are used for cooking and will give a fried beef fillet great flavor.
Fill a small bowl with balsamic, oil and swirl a light olive oil into it. Serve this with fresh crusty bread and dukah for an easy pre-dinner snack!

Tapenade

Ingredients:

100g olives of your choice
60g black olives
60g anchovy fillets (optional)
30g capers
15g finely chopped garlic
Lemon juice, as needed
extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
Pepper
2 tbsp chopped oreganum or basil

Method:

Blend all the olives, the anchovies, capers and the garlic in a food processor until chunky and easy to spread. Slowly add olive oil and lemon juice to taste without over mixing. Your tapenade must have texture and identifiable bits of olive.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with pepper and more lemon juice, if needed.
Mix in the herbs and serve with pate’s, pesto’s and cheese for a lovely metze platter.

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