Category Archives: olive oil sommelier

Bra to Madrid: The adventure begins

All week I have been looking forward to heading to Spain for some olive oil culture. I can’t tell you how happy I am I chose the informal olive oil education option. This is going to be much more fun than sitting in a classroom. As an anthropologist I’ve always thought the best way to learn is from doing. I can’t wait to see the beautiful olive groves of Andalusia, talk to olive farmers and millers and get a better of understanding of what role olives play in the local culture.

First I am off to Madrid and then down to Cazorla in Jaen. Stay tuned for the adventure and lots of photos.

Winter Blues


I guess I have been hibernating a bit lately; these last few days have felt like winter here in Piedmont. Yes, this is my excuse for neglecting this blog. However, I tried to cheer myself up by thinking of spring. I am going down to Amelia for Easter and I will have more updates on Francesco and his olive groves. I am still hoping to take the ONAOO olive oil tasting course in May, but I may need to rob a bank first. I still haven’t understood why the course is so expensive. I guess most courses that give you a professional qualification tend to come with a hefty price tag.

We still have some tasty 2007 olive oil as well as fresh 2008 Amelia oil. Check out our web site to place an order. We ship to the States.

New year and new oil


The new year is off to a good start with our new Amelia oil nearing Vancouver.

The beginning of the year is also a time for new projects and I certainly have a few! I have not given up on my idea of becoming an olive oil sommelier and I hope to register for my course soon (I am still deciding which one). I also hope that the new year will take me to Spain in search of small-scale producers growing quality olive oil. We are also hoping to share our delicious oil with more cooks and food lovers throughout Canada and the United States, not just Vancouver.

Keep watching this blog for updates as well as more recipes that will help you showcase the lovely taste of extra virgin olive oil. I will also be adding a section on the town of Amelia for those of you who would like to visit the town and enjoy the beauty and hospitality of southern Umbria.

A presto.

Back to Italy


Tomorrow I am leaving for Italy, where I will be teaching and doing research for the University of Gastronomic Sciences for a year. I will be living in Bra, the headquarters for Slow Food. In the next few weeks I hope to embark on my olive oil apprenticeship on the road to becoming an extra virgin olive oil sommelier. I will also be traveling down to Amelia to see Francessco and many old friends. Updates on this year’s harvest will be posted regularly on this blog, along with photos. In November, I will be helping with the olive harvest and I plan on putting our oil into the bottles myself. It doesn’t get much more transparent than that.

Don’t forget that you can preorder 2008 Amelia Oil by downloading an order form on our site. Shortly, we will be able to accept visa and mastercard, hence we will be able to ship to the United States. I will keep you posted.

Silvia Dotto’s Italian olive oil and cheese tasting


Next week on Sept. 11, 12, 13 & 15, Silvia Dotto, ceramic artist extraordinaire, has organised an Italian cheese and olive oil tasting here in Vancouver. Olive oil sommelier and cheese expert Cristiano de Riccardis will be leading these tasty workshops.

To find out more and to see if there are any seats remaining, contact Silvia Dotto directly at or have a look at her blog. Hopefully Silvia will be hosting similar events in the future.

Becoming an olive oil sommelier

In September I will be moving back to Italy to teach and do research at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo (picture above), which is associated with Slow Food. This is an amazing place for anyone interested in the history, culture and future of food in the world. Besides teaching an anthropology of food course, I hope to indulge in a little formal learning of my own: I would like to become an olive oil sommelier.

This is something I have been interested in for a few years. As far as I know, there are no courses offered in Canada (surprise, surprise). I looked into a few courses in Italy when I was still living in Umbria but had no idea which were above-board. The problem is there are two serious courses, as far as I can tell. There is a course offered by the Italian Sommelier Association (AIS), whose main focus has traditionally been wine. The other course is offered by the The National Organisation of Olive Oil Tasters (ONAOO), who only specialise in olive oil. Who knew it could be so complicated.

I hope I can find a course that covers the history and culture of olives, as well as the science and art of tasting oil. All I know is there is a big, beautiful world of olives and oil that I want to learn more about.