Olives and olive oil
Olives and olive oil
Among the most successful revivals of ancient agricultures is the regeneration of olive production. There are olive groves extending from the westernmost areas of Istria, down the length of the coastline, including islands large and small, down to eastern borders of the Dubrovnik region, with new groves being planted every year. Young experts are winning prestigious acclaims both at home and abroad, for their oils being at very peak of the Mediterranean olive growing industry. And it has been proved that the best olives oils in Croatia come from relatively small olive groves, where literally every tree receives special attention and care. Certain customs and practices, like washing the olives in the sea, make Croatian olive oils even more special. The most common and widespread varieties in Croatia are indigenous: buža and oblica. Although the practice of mixing different varieties is common, domestic olive growers recently began supplying a variety of oils, and this is where the indigenous varieties come into their own. The best oils are often on offer in prestigious wine boutiques.
Among purist connoisseurs an increasingly favoured hors d’oeuvre is fine olive oil, freshly baked top quality bread and salt, nowadays becoming ever more popular even in exclusive restaurants. Possible additions to this magnificent simplicity could be capers and highly appreciated fillets of salt-pickled fish in olive oil, with few drops of good wine vinegar and a few slices of onion. Marinades made with raw fish in top quality olive oil, in particular anchovies, sprinkled with the juice of home grown lemons, are especially popular in the Split and Zadar clusters.
Baking is the old, traditional way of releasing the bitter elements from olives. The baked olives are then kept in olive oil and aromatized with Mediterranean herbs, primarily rosemary, which is also the best way of enjoying them. Another old custom is being revived, this time among bakers: pieces of olive are mixed into bread dough, the result being deliciously piquant bread.