Every visit, every single time, I always find something new at Babylonstoren. This to me is what keeps me coming back every time, the excitement of exploring something different in the same lush gardens. If you remember, I joined a group for the Bee workshop last October, which was amazing to experience first hand going into the apiary and interacting with the bees and more importantly being educated about bees and their critical importance to life and the food chain, this gave me a higher level of respect and love for bees.
To run you through what went down last week Wednesday, we started the day with a short scenic bus trip to the olive orchards where harvesting was well under way already(this time of the year is peak to harvesting times). Our hosts Klass Stoffberg, Linda Costa and Hannes introduced themselves and gave a brief lesson on the FS17 olive orchard which stood in front of us. We were encouraged to help pick the olives by individually picking them of the tree and not shaking off the tree. The former is the preferred method to harvest, as this creates less damage to the tree and olives.
Another short bus trip down to the olive factory this time, a quick stop by the tasting room for a comforting coffee and biscotti on a overcast nippy day which proved perfect for a walk in the orchards! After refreshments, a walk down to the cellar and through to the other side, was a bustling olive factory, a quick tour followed by an olive oil tasting was enthralling and insightful to learn about the different varietals of olive oils and how they are grown in different soils and environments depending on their nutritional needs.
Lunch was served at the Greenhouse at a long table, conducive for a talkative lunch hour. Lunch was a tasty lamb pot pie with a vibrant salad picked fresh from their lush gardens or course served along with a can of their award winning Extra Virgin Olive oil. Dessert, a very tart passion fruit cheesecake with chocolate soil.
The lecture that took place after lunch, I have to be honest was my favourite part of the day! Yes I know, I am a nerd, a food nerd at heart, I do love learning and I believe that we never stop learning. A tasting of faulty olive oils and a worksheet of its positive and negative characteristics were present of which we had to complete to fully understand the difference between its faulty and positive characteristics. A faulty olive oil could have one of four characteristics, namely:
Did you know? in order for an extra virgin olive oil to be classified as such, it must have no defect or a defect of 2,5% or less out of 10 and fatty acids of 0,8% to be classified as EVOO. The CTC seal on all our local EVOO packaging is not only a stamp of approval of its quality and integrity but an assurance that the EVOO has gone through a local tasting panel.
How to taste EVOO? Warm a small cup in your hands, take a small sip and allow it to coat your mouth. You should be experience fruitiness hitting your tastebuds and peppery notes coating the back of your throat. This is a good indication of the quality of the oil and its high antioxidants.
The tasting of table olives was rather surprising to me, because I enjoy only one type of table olive which is the Kalamata. This all changed when I tasted the Beroni and Manzanilla table olives these specific ones were quite large in size and meaty in taste, with no bitter perfume or zesty flavours, which is what I hate from normal green table olives.
The day ended with a brief exploration mission in the ‘healing garden’and a barefooted walkabout in the chamomile lawns with a likeminded new friend!
The wealth of knowledge one acquires at these workshops are immeasurably worth it! By no means do I consider myself to be an ‘olive know-it-all’ at least now I can tell the difference between an EVOO and a refined olive oil. An added bonus about these workshops, are that you meet likeminded people and end up going home having made a friend or two!
For more information on the workshops at Babylonstoren, follow the link and be sure to book way in advance to secure your spot. https://www.babylonstoren.com/experience/workshop