November 8th, 2009

Fishy Circumstances

First Pressing

Family friends took us up into the Colli Euganei last weekend, odd volcanic hills southwest of Padova. After an hour at a Monselice festival, more market than seasonal produce, and walking up its hill to glorious panoramas in the noontime haze, we ate a wonderful lunch at a countryside restaurant.

Afterward, in the fading afternoon, we went to a frantoio, where olives are pressed the "traditional" industrial way. It's a small family operation, with the extended family in residence in the surrounding buildings. It was clean, compact, and redolent of grassy olive intensity.

Here is a photo of the first pressing: enormous granite millstones turn at speed, each rotating around its own axis and the joined axis at the center of the vat.

First pressing of olives at a frantoio

The crushed olives are then crushed again, beneath hundreds of kilograms of pressure, separating the oil from the olive paste which can then be used for tapenades and such. A final round of machining clarifies the oil.

Our incredibly dense day wasn't over. Our hosts took us back to their home as night fell.

Colli Euganei at Nightfall

Then we were off, too soon, for another meal, pizza at another friend's restaurant. Had we only more appetite with which to do it justice....