I first met Dimitra at an exhibition for local actives and attractions in Kalamata. I don’t know what took caught my eye first – her beautifully bottled olive oil or her glowing smile. Dimitra you see, is a person with a HUGE enthusiasm, the kind of enthusiasm that radiates from a person. The kind that makes you excited to learn what all the fuss is about. You want in on the secrets of her passion, you want a taste of it …. and what is it ….. the liquid gold …… Olive Oil!!!!
Andi and I went to experience The Olive Routes tour on a beautiful sunny September morning. I told Andi that we would be going on an adventure and it really lived up to the expectations!!
We joined Dimitra and the group at what can only be described as the stunning castle of Androusa. The view from the top is breathtaking, looking over Messinia, the Messinian gulf and the spectacular Taygetos mountain range. Whilst here Dimitra lead us on a treasure hunt for Olive Oil bottles, each one containing a clue to find the next. We learnt about the different varieties of olives, for oil and for eating and how to tell if you are eating real Kalamata olives. (I’m not going to say how because you really should take the tour – you will learn so much)
The thing I love about this tour, and Dimitra, is like I said in the introduction. When someone has such an enthusiasm for something, it really shows, it pulls you in and you want to learn more. Being a certified Olive taster, having a husband who owns an olive grove (and a lot of olive trees) you can understand where Dimitra’s knowledge and passion has grown. She is a walking encyclopedia of facts about olives, the oil production and the quality of the oil (and any other facts relating to these) Above and beyond this however, is the delivery, the tour is done in a way which is inclusive and fun …. even for a three year old 🙂
After leaving the castle we visited an olive grove like I have never experienced before – and I live in the Mani – I’m surrounded by olive groves!!!! This olive grove was full of tree that were 1000’s of years old. Their trunks were twisted and broad and you could sense a kind of wisdom coming from them, they have lived longer than we can even imagine. Dimitra pointed out to me that one tree in particular had a heart at it’s center.
Next it was off to the factory itself to learn about the process of extracting the olive oil. We learnt about each step and each machine and exactly what happened to the olives and the oil at each point. We hope to visit again when olive season is in full swing so we can see the machines doing their oil making magic!
We then sat and learnt some more facts about different qualities of oil, the percentage of the use of olive oil around the world and other really interesting information. I won’t tell you the facts because it would be cheating …. you would know all the answers to the quiz 😉
Onto the best bit ….. the tasting. Sitting at a beautifully set up table and lead by Dimitra we learnt how to taste the oil. How to understand which is a good oil and which is a bad oil. How to combine certain oils with some foods, for example a mild oil with fish, and others, such a spicy oil, pairs better with a salad or vegetables. We also learnt how oil can change the taste of foods by tasting it with yogurt, cheese, salad and a secret, unusual surprise.
To finish we were served a lovely lunch, spinach pie, sausage, cheeses, traditional lalagi, salad and other nibbles. Accompanied by a glass of wine and the lovely guests at the table it was the perfect end to the tour. We all chatted and got to know each other a little better.
Before we starting tasting the olive oil Dimitra told the group that children were very good at tasting because they say exactly what comes from their heart. When I put Andi in the car to leave she said “that was fun Mummy” and I believe that pretty much says it all. It was a wonderful experience that I can highly recommend. Thank you Dimitra for sharing your enthusiasm with us, we feel a little more knowledgeable 😉