When I was a child, growing up in Scotland, olive oil wasn’t part of our household vocabulary. I can actually remember, the first time that I ever heard of it, was when my aunt and uncle had spent a year living in Italy, and brought back some ‘extra virgin olive oil’ to Scotland for my parents, I was 16 or 17 years old. I still remember their excitement to share their delicious discovery with us, and I can remember too, my very first taste, as they taught us the Mediterranean ritual of dipping bread into the oil.
Times have now changed and today olive oil is more readily available in Northern Europe, and perhaps a more standard feature in non-Mediterranean climes, but for me, olive oil is still something very special, something that represents another life, another land of sunshine and warmth, a whole world away from my native Scotland. I never imagined that one day we would have four olive trees in our garden and that the Mediterranean culture and lifestyle would become my normal!
The Villa des Parfums olive trees are almost two hundred years old, they were probably planted by the original owners of the house, at the time it was built, in the 1830s. Today they are beautiful, ancient, twisted, knotted trees and they produce much fruit! In the late autumn we harvest our olives and take them to the local olive press, Huilerie Sainte Anne. http://www.huilerie-sainte-anne-boutique.com
The Huilerie Sainte Anne is beautiful and interesting, and absolutely worth visiting. It is the last of the traditional olive mills in our area, still using the ancient techniques and original stone mill to produce authentic, natural olive oil, just as our ancestors did!
Here’s a short video showing the mill in action:
It’s an amazing process, once we harvest and sort our olives, we take them to the press, where they are inspected for quality (they have high standards and don’t accept just any old olive!) then they are weighed and then finally pressed. Within a few days, we return to collect our very own olive oil! Liquid gold! I love that we can enjoy the olive oil from our garden. I love that it comes from trees planted close to two centuries ago, and that it’s pressed on an old mill, right here in Grasse, that’s been making olive oil exactly the same way since 1706!!!