The first time I tried Tokara Olive Oil, I immediately fell in love. I was the designated driver for a friend’s birthday wine tour and while everyone was tasting the wine from the beautiful estate, I was trying the olive oil. I was so impressed, I bought a bottle there and then. When we got invited to try out their range of 2016 extra virgin olive oils, I was so ready.
We sat in the gorgeous deli overlooking the most magnificent view of the mountain, and got ready enjoy some good food. Not only did I get to sample the incredible products, I learned so much about the industry as a whole. For example, did you know the average person in Greece consumes around 26 litres of olive oil a year? The South African olive oil industry is fairly new and because of our climate, our olive oil is thinner and less yellow than what Europeans are used to. Even so, the caliber of olive oil we produce, especially at Tokara, is among the best.
To me, an olive olive tasting consists of lapping up some oil with bread, maybe dipping it in some balsamic and chomping it down. At the Tokara tasting, I released that there is so much more to it. The olive oil maker Gert van Dyk takes as much care into making his olive oils as a master winemaker. Tasting it demands more than just dipping bread into it. Before the oil even touched our lips, we had to warm up the oil in our hands. This helps release the smell and taste of the oils. We cupped the oil in our hands and rotated it like so:
There are four oils in Tokara’s 2016 range. A Frantolio, an estate blend, a premium blend and a multi-varietal blend. Gert took us through each olive oil, where we noted the smell, colour and taste. At first, I thought sniffing the oil was a bit silly, I mean olive oil is olive oil. It’s all in the taste, right? Wrong! Each olive oil had it’s own distinctive smell. We also sipped on the oils to taste it properly. I was worried that drinking the oils straight would be unpleasant, but the oils went down well and left you with a clean pallet.
The Frantolio smelt like fresh cut grass. The multi-varietal smelt more fruity than grassy. Gert said it smells specifically of the olive leaf. It was more peppery than the Frantolio and is best used for general cooking. The premium oil is the oil you use for special dishes, It is more intense than the first two oils – so much so that just one taste made many of us cough. Finally the estate blend is a rich delicious oil. This is the oil that you would dip your bread into. The smell made Gert and his assistant feel as if they were walking through the olive fields.
After the tasting, we were treated the most exquisite lunch that made use of the olive oils in every course. From steak to risotto, chocolate tart and cake, the flavours of the oil transformed the food into the most delicious decadent dishes. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more impressed by Tokaras, their 2016 range of oils took things to a new level and will be available on supermarket shelves everywhere soon.