La Collina – A Flavour of Tuscany

La Collina Sandycove shop Max Lambert

Perched on top of one of the many rolling hills of Tuscany some 40 kms south-west of Florence sits the medieval village of Cerreto Guidi. It was here that the famous Medici family came to hunt wild boar in the 16th Century, establishing a grand villa around which the village grew. The wild boar and the forests in which they roamed have over time been replaced by vineyards and the olive groves from which this oil is produced.

The link with Cerreto Guidi was established in the course of one Irishman’s quest to know the area of his father’s birth and upbringing in a nearby town, thereby squaring the circle of life in so many ways. The village and its surrounding countryside make wonderful wines and almost all the vineyards also make a small amount of artisan first press extra virgin olive oil. Cerreto Guidi is now well known to many Irish because of its pivotal location for access to all the famous Tuscan landmarks as well as its wonderful Tuscan cooking, fine wines and especially its stunning olive oil.

TASTING NOTES:
This olive oil is typically harvested from November to mid-December. The olives used are multi-coloured when picked and range in shade from dark blue to yellow-green. The early harvested olives are more pungent and spicy while those harvested later give a smooth buttery flavour. The final product suggests a flavour of roasted artichokes and almonds together with a hint of green leaves rounding to a mild peppery finish.

This Tuscan olive oil is so distinctive in favour that you’ll just have to taste it yourself to know the difference. Use it to bring out the flavours of pastas, salads, vegetables or just simply spread on warmed ciabatta bread already rubbed with a garlic clove… wonderful!

BRUSCHETTA
The classic bruschetta with the aroma of garlic, is the perfect way to enhance the many layered flavours of a good extra virgin olive oil and there is no better companion for barbeques and starters all’Italiana!

Ingredients: 2 slices of bread from a white loaf | clove of garlic | extra virgin olive oil | salt
Preparation: Cut the bread into thick slices about 1cm (half inch) thick. Toast it or grill on the BBQ. While still warm, rub the garlic clove on one side of the toasted bread. Add a pinch of salt. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm. Enjoy!

INSALATA CAPRESE
Nothing could be simpler than this recipe named after the island of Capri (Naples). The secret is to use the best quality ingredients you can find.

Ingredients: 2 large ripe tomatoes | a buffalo (or cow’s milk) mozzarella | extra virgin olive oil | a few basil leaves | oregano | salt
Preparation: Slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella about quarter inch thick. Arrange them on a plate, overlapping them. Scatter with basil, according to taste. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of oregano. Enjoy!

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