Author Archives: ameliaoil

Our Farmers

Rachel met Francesco Suatoni when she was living in Amelia.

She was keenly interested in olive oil production and Francesco was happy to be her teacher. He ran the local olive mill and introduced her to life on the olive farm.

The Suatoni family have been growing and producing olive oil in Amelia for over four generations. Each family member is involved in some aspect of the production of the olive oil from pruning the trees to bottling the oil.

Today Francesco Suatoni heads the daily business operations but his father Vincenzo and his mother Anna are still very much involved. New to the team is Francesco’s fiancé, Giuditta who is also from another olive growing family. The family’s commitment to producing excellent oil is evident in the pride they take in their farm. The trees are expertly pruned and the fields are lush and green, the sign of a healthy herbicide-free farm. Their mill or frantoio is an immaculate operation.

In the Suatoni household, a family meal often consists of everything produced completely on their own farm, including the wine. It’s impressive and we’ve been lucky enough to share the experience as their guests.

 

Arrival Of the New 2012 Amelia Oil

 

Some things are worth waiting for we are told. Our new oil is anxiously expected to arrive this week in Vancouver. It seemed to take a bit longer getting here this year which was no reflection on our team in Amelia, Umbria. Francesco had it ready to go early in the new year but we are at the mercy of the shipping Gods it would seem.

Francesco proudly states “it’s our best oil in years.” We can’t wait to try it.

I look forward to the arrival of the oil this year with some ambivalence. This is not to do with concerns about it’s quality but rather physically lifting it. Yes, last week I managed to break my wrist while hiking with my dogs on the icy trails of our North Shore Mountains. In hindsight I knew I should have packed the crampons I bought this year to specifically deal with these conditions. Note to self – be prepared for any weather conditions. It is particularly annoying in light of the fact I’m only weeks away from running the Boston Marathon. The good news is it wasn’t my leg and I can still run with my lightweight and waterproof cast – my racing cast!

I’ve been working with our new Web Master to improve our website. Alison has been fantastic at sorting through technical issues and helping me to move forward. ……………….stay tuned for a new look at Amelia Oil.

You will notice we have the 2011 oil on sale. It is 20% off the regular price. It has been kept in cold storage and is still excellent. If you go through  large volumes of olive oil you might consider it. Remember every year the olive oil is a little different in character. This is because the weather and the amount of rain influences the flavour. Our oil is a blend of four different varietals so some years will see certain ones being more predominant.

On our purchase page of our website you will see there is no longer a 5 litre available in the 2012 oil. Many of you found the 5 litre a bit bulky so we thought we’d simplify things and go with the 3 litre. In some ways it’s better to not open the larger size and expose it to oxygen longer than necessary if you don’t use it very quickly. Oxygen is not a good thing for keeping olive oil tasting fresh.

One last note about shipping and picking up locally. There are provisions for both methods on the website. I love to meet my customers when they come to pick up their oil. I’m happy to give a tasting if you call ahead and let me know. I have met some great people through this little business. I guess people who are passionate about food are my kind of people. If you pick up your oil at my place in the next few weeks be prepared to literally pick it up as I won’t be doing any heavy lifting for awhile 🙁

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frantoio

Il Frantoio : The Olive Mill

The frantoio di Suatoni is a wonderful example of the best of modern technology when it meets with the Old World sensibility. The Suatoni’s use a modern centrifuge system that extracts the oil without heating it – cold pressed. The whole operation is efficient and immaculately clean which is critical for producing excellent oil.

This has earned the Suatonis a good reputation with the locals who come to the mill to have their olives pressed. Not many farmers have their own mills because of the cost and they rely on mills such as these to get their olives pressed.

During harvest time the frantoio is a social gathering spot for the locals. As the farmers wait for their olives to be pressed they compare notes on the growing season and sample olio nuovo on grilled bread. The business of pressing oil during the harvest season often goes on into the night and the frantoio is equipped with a kitchen and dining room with it’s own hearth for grilling. Workers and clients are always well fed. It’s the Italian way!

The frantoio welcomes visitors year round and a tour is available if you call ahead.

 

Amelia, Italy

Amelia – A Town in Umbria

Amelia often gets confused with being one of us. It’s actually the name of an ancient hill town in the heart of  Umbria. It may seem a little off the beaten path to the average tourist but actually it’s only about an hour and a half from Rome and a half hour from Orvieto.

The fact that there are so few tourists speaks to one of the many charms of this town. It is a walled hill town dating back to pre-Roman times. Francesco’s frantoio and olive groves lie just beyond the walls of the town. The top of the town is an excellent vantage spot to take in the lush rolling terrain, which is dotted with olive trees.

A trip to Amelia is a reminder that there was a time when the pace of daily life was once much slower, and that there are still places where everyone in a town knows each other. After visiting Amelia you will understand why Italy was the birthplace of Slow Food, and perhaps even “slow life.”

Our Story

When Rachel returned Canada from living in Italy in 2005, she decided the one thing she could not live without was olive oil from Amelia: “I knew that I could never find the same quality of oil.” She brought back with her to Canada 80 litres of olive oil and used it to convince her mother Rebecca to start a business importing olive oil from Amelia. Rebecca’s passion for cooking and great sales skills made her the perfect partner. This is how Amelia Oil was born in 2006.

Rachel Black – Rachel was working on her doctorate in Anthropology in Italy with a focus on food when she fell in love with the olive oil she tasted in Amelia, Umbria. She forged a friendship with the family who owned the olive mill and they taught her all about the cultivation and production of their liquid gold.

Today Rachel runs the Gastronomy Program at Boston University. She has taught at the University of Gastronomic Science in Pollenzo, Italy and makes regular trips to Italy to do research and enjoy the food and wine. She is the author of the book – Porta Palazzo –The Anthropology of an Italian Market and the co-editor Wine and Culture: Vineyard to Glass

She loves her visits to the olive mill in Amelia to see Francesco, where she gets to taste the latest oil and hear all about the growing season. Rachel has taken on a consulting role in Amelia Oil , her Italian language skills come in handy.

Rebecca Black – Rebecca handles the daily operation of the business and imports the fresh oil annually from Italy to Vancouver. She loves cooking and gardening and spreads the word about the virtues of this exceptional oil. “I love meeting people who share a passion for good food and turning them on to our oil.” She maintains that “the best way to sell our olive oil is to let people taste it.” She often welcomes customers into her home to taste the difference between our fresh oil and supermarket oil. Most people are easily converted. For Rebecca, a trip to Umbria, from time to time reinforces the value of knowing where and how your food is produced.

Green Pea Bruschetta with Mint and Pecorino

Waiting Arrival of New 2011 Oil- Olio Nuovo

Green Pea Bruschetta with Mint and Pecorino

When we first started this business in 2006 and received our first batch of oil from the folks in Amelia in January, we realized immediately how lucky we were to be tasting a fresh product which most people in North America will never experience. The new oil is intense tasting and bursting with flavour. You can really pick up the grassy, fruity flavours and peppery finish, in a good year. By “good year” I’m referring to the fact that we have come to recognize that each year presents it’s own unique flavours in the olive oil. Much like wine, olive oil is influenced by the weather and precipitation during the growing season. Some years have been hot and dry, especially 2008. The oil that year had a much more buttery taste and although smooth, I felt it lacking the usual punch of say the 2007 oil. Some of our customers preferred this oil, but many agreed they liked the greener taste of previous oils. The last few years have been pretty  consistent and favourable weather wise, resulting in very good oil.  One thing Francesco’s Dad, Vincenze told us, was that they are now harvesting the oil much earlier than they did 15-20 years ago. This is thought to be brought about by climate change, as the summers are hotter and the olives are ripening sooner. They used to harvest in December and now they start picking the end of Oct. and November.

I like to think of the arrival of the new oil  as a celebration equivalent, to the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. (probably tastier) This year when you get your new oil why not plan your own little celebration. My suggestion would be to have a few friends over and make a little bruschetta. You can just grill some good crusty slices of bread and rub a clove of garlic across it when hot and then drizzle the new oil on top. If you want to get jazzy you can come up with all sorts of interesting toppings but plain is probably the best way to taste the oil. Tomatoes aren’t in season and the ones you get are often lacking in flavour this time of year so why not try something different, perhaps a little proscutto and a shaving of good parmesean? Here is a favorite combo of mine that hints of spring to come.

Sweet Pea Bruschetta with Mint and Pecorino

Take about 10 oz. of frozen organic peas, defrost to room temp and pat dry.

Combine peas, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt and pepper in food processor. Puree till smooth and bright.

Spoon on to toasted baguette slices and top with ribbons of fresh mint leaves and a shaving of Pecorino Romano cheese.

Easy Peasy!

Have a few friends over when the new Amelia Oil arrives, crack open a little Prosecco, serve up some bruscetta and have your own little Olio Nuovo Celebration.

At Okanagan
Feast of Fields

Amelia Oil at Okanagan Feast of Fields – Sunday August 22 – Brock Farm, Okanagan Falls

We were excited to be part of the Okanagan Feast of Field of Fields event this year. This is the annual fundraiser for Farm Folk City Folk.

http://www.feastoffields.com/

We shared a booth with our friends Cam and Dana, the wonderful chefs who run Joy Road Catering. http://www.joyroadcatering.com/ We were also joined by, Tim from Sweet Pit Heirloom Tomatoes.

Dana’s artisan sourdough bread was grilled on site and topped with Tim’s colourful tomatoes and fresh basil with a liberal drizzle of Amelia Oil.- heaven !

Joy Road Catering, are the people who do the fabulous wine maker’s dinners at God’s Mountain. Dana makes some of the most delicious artisanal loaves of bread you will ever taste and they feature Amelia Oil to dip it in. They have introduced Amelia Oil to many of our good customers.

Feast of Fields features numerous chefs, vintners and local producers, showcasing the best local ingredients.

Their web site says to think of it as a roaming 25 course wine pairing and tasting menu on a gorgeous farm. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the Okanagan. It was delicious!

Put this one on the to do list for next year.

 

Heirloom Tomatoes and Amelia Oil

Rebecca and Dana at Feast of Fields

2010 Olio Nuovo

***
***
Our 2010 Amelia Oil has arrived!
*
If you have pre-ordered your olive oil, please call (604-329-0442) or send us an e-mail to arrange pick up. If you would like to order oil to be delivered, get in touch or order on line. As usual, quantities are limited. We encourage you to think of olive oil in the Italian way: buy only fresh oil and stock up on a year’s supply. This is the most economical and easiest way.
*
This year we have a new 3-litre format tin as well as the usual 500ml bottles, 1-litre and 5-litre tins.
*
More wonderful sale alle erbe from Vignalta arrived with this shipment. We have limited supply so be sure to order or ask for this lovely wet sea salt with herbs when you pick up your olive oil. It is one of those ingredients that can transform the simplest dish. Like our olive oil, once you start cooking with it you won’t want to be without.
*
Our new 2010 extra virgin olive oil is grassy and herbaceous, which is typical of Frantoio olives. It has a peppery note on the finish, giving it that distinctive Umbrian taste that comes from Moraiolo and Rajo olives. We can’t wait to share this year’s wonderful harvest with you.

Buon Anno

doug_rachel_w1

***

Buon anno! We’d like to wish all our customers the very best for a happy and inspired new year. We appreciate your business very much and the support you have given us. Through olive oil, we have met so many interesting people who share our passion for food and Italy. Many of you we now count as friends. It’s been so much fun.

When I refer to, “we” I am speaking of myself, and my daughter Rachel. Together, we started this business in 2006 to bring fresh olive oil with character and flavor to Vancouver and beyond.

I have some news on that front: Rachel married Doug Cook on December 29 in Elk, California. Yes, Elk! They will live in San Francisco, a great foodie city. Doug, a wine enthusiast, is known for his Able Grape web site, a search engine for wine lovers. They hope to expand Amelia Oil into the Bay area. Stay tuned for more news from Amelia Oil’s San Francisco branch.

More good news: the new 2010 olive oil from Amelia is on the boat and scheduled to arrive at the end of January. We had hoped it might arrive sooner but snow en route to the docks slowed the process. It’s hard to imagine snow in Italy but this has been a very cold winter in Europe.

This year we have added a 3-litre tin format as well as a little 250 ml mini tin. As usual we bring in extra oil, so if you didn’t get around to placing an order there should still be oil available. We’ll update you by e-mail when it arrives.

We encourage our customers to think ahead to how much olive oil they need for the year and to pick it up when it arrives in January. The idea is to use the oil within the calendar year. That is the Italian way. However, most of us aren’t very Italian and we figure it out as we go along and buy our olive oil as we need it.

A number of our customers have run out of our oil and substituted various grocery store olive oils for the Amelia Oil. I am pleased to say they told us they noticed big difference and commented that it just didn’t do the trick. There is no substitute for top-quality fresh olive oil.

We look forward to sharing with you some of the best olive oil in Italy. We have to also thank Francesco Suatoni, our friend, farmer and miller, and his family for continuing to produce delicious EVOO.

Best wishes for 2010. Auguri!