Olive oil is such an important part of Spanish life. On a salad, with bread, or in your cooking – it’s both versatile and delicious. It’s a product that’s ubiquitous and supermarkets have such a large range that it can be difficult to choose. By going local though, you can get a very different oil, often with a far richer and more complex flavour.
Going local may well involve visiting an almazara. This unusual Spanish word comes from the Arabic al ma sára, meaning the place where something is squeezed, ergo an olive mill. Some run tours, others just have a simple shop, but you can be assured that you will be buying a fresh local product. Here are a couple that I have been to.
Ramón Pérez – Fortuna, Murcia
Ramón Pérez is a newcomer to the olive oil sector having been set up in 2009. Located just outside the small town of Fortuna, Murcia, it would appear at first glance to be a small operator. Statistics don’t lie though, and the production of some 1.8 million litres of olive oil every year is far from small in my eyes!
Once you’ve found the almazara, park by the sculpture made from olive oil bottles and you can’t miss the shop. The door is shaped like a giant bottle of olive oil. Inside is a very modern space including a wall of olive oil. The green viscous liquid pours slowly down a glass panel and the smell of the oil permeates the entire shop. It smells delicious, and a quick taste of the oil (not from the display but poured from a bottle just for you!) soon confirms the diagnosis. They even have a special golden bottle with my initials on it. I was disappointed to find that it had nothing to do with anticipating my visit, but that I share my initials with Ramón Pérez!
Downstairs is a special surprise. The bodega is a wonderful little space where wines from Alicante and Jumilla are on sale. Plans are afoot to have tasting sessions with local cheese and jamon. It’s definitely a place that is going to develop in the coming years, but a visit is certainly worthwhile right now. I doubt you’ll leave without buying something!!
Aceites los Olivillos – Rute, Andalucia
Aceites los Olivillos is a small almazara which you’ll pass on the way into Rute if you go to visit the jamon museum or the Machaquito anis factory about which I have previously written. Keep an eye out for some classic old vehicles on your left. It’s worth stopping just to look at them and to have a quick nose around the machinery in the yard. The shop itself is small but their olive oil is packed full of flavour.