Posted by: viewfromtheriva | December 22, 2010

Solta showcases it olive oil

A sample of some of the more than two dozen olive oils from Solta ready for tasting

The island of Solta, the closest island to the city of Split, has long been known for its olives.   Although the year round population is only 1,500, the island’s tradition of olive growing can be traced back to the early Romans.

Last week, Soltanski trudi (literally ” Solta works” i.e. the labor of people who live and work on the island), a local organization supporting artisans and sustainable development on Solta, co-sponsored a unique event–the first ever professionally judged olive oil contest for all producers of olive oil on Solta.  Luckily, we were invited us to come and enjoy the proceedings.

The other sponsor was the island’s most famous oil, Olynthia Natura, whose mill serves as a cooperative pressing agent for many of the island’s small producers, most of whom only sell their oil on Solta.

Each producer submitted 100ml bottle of their oil for blind-tasting and testing in Zagreb by a jury of 8 professionals.

More than two dozen local producers provided samples of this year’s oil which were sent to Zagreb where a panel of 8 professional jurors tasted and analyzed them.  Most were blends of Olbitsa and Soltanka varieties, but some were single variety oils.  The Soltanka variety originally came from Italy and is also known as Levantinka–but its roots in Croatia started on Solta, so it is very prized locally.

All of the entries were on display and available for tasting.  After a presentation, the winners were announced and then we all joined in a local feast that the wives of many of the contestants cooked up.

The local delicacies (with a decided focus on olives!) included fabulous locally produced Dobricic wine for all to enjoy.

Delicious pates. olive oil bread, wine, fish delicacies and more--all cooked by the wives of the contestants!

What was particularly fascinating was that the entries included oils produced the traditional way–soaked in sea water and then pressed later–as well as the more modern way which is  picked and pressed within 24 hours.

The first prize winner, Marin Marinkovic's gorgeous oil from his groves in Gornje Selo, pressed by Olynthia Natura

The first prize winner was from the tiny hamlet of Gornje Selo, where Olynthia Natura also has its mill.  Even before we bought a bottle, we thought it was one of the top three simply by its taste.

It was really fascinating to taste so many oils and actually be able to distinguish the subtleties (since we created the “Discover Solta, the island of olives, honey and wine” tour, we’re getting pretty good at olive oil tasting!).  The event was such a success that they plan to do it again next year.

About 60 people attended the event, held in the Grohote "house of culture" hall, a community center that at one time was the town's cinema and now serves as an exhibition hall, art gallery and general all-puirpose meeting place.

Special thanks to Goran Tvrdic, a third generation bee-keeper whose rosemary honey is as terrific as Solta’s olive oil and Frane Kastelanac, the guiding light behind Olynthia Natura whose is so dedicated to preserving the oldest trees on the island and making olive oil as naturally as possible.

If you haven’t been to Solta, do come and visit the groves, the mill–taste the fruits of the oldest cultivated tree in the world; enjoy Goran’s honey, some Dobricic wine, great swimming and the unspoiled beauty of this tranquil island.

Soltanski trudi--one of the sponsors of the even

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  1. hi Robert,

    being in Holland at the moment, I have the time to check the internet on Croatian news, even things I regularly ignore (due to slow internet in Svinisce) .

    reading your, as always excellent, blog, I enjoyed the part about Olynthia.
    funny enough, I got connected recently to Frane Kastelanac (via Localyte).
    impressed by his website about Olynthia, we planned to have an espresso as soon as we are back in paradise HR.

    not surprised, that you are connected to Frane as well, and seem to be the “inventor” of is tour offer.

    even now Elisa and Davor had to change location and future, the invitation to you and Natasha stands !
    we’ll be most happy to meet with you two.

    all the best, Pim.

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