The 2017 Olive Harvest

23 Oct

Every year, around mid to late October, many Cortonese hope to begin harvesting their olives. I use the word hope because Mother Nature plays a huge role in the success of the harvest. While 2015 was a bountiful year, the complete opposite was true for 2016 due to the dreaded mosca (fly).  And this year, the 2017 harvest was severely limited by the drought…hence,  small quantity but good quality olives depending on the location of one’s olive grove.

Nonetheless, October begins the eagerly anticipated time “olio nuovo” (new oil) signs begin to appear in restaurants and stores. And it is also a time when locals invite friends to celebrate their production. Lucky for us, friends invited us to dinner last night, but didn’t tell us they had already been to the frantoio (mill) to begin processing their olives.

As soon as we entered the cantina, we knew we were in for a treat. The bright green color and the light peppery taste of freshly pressed olive oil is unlike that of any other oil.




Lapo and Paola like to call this a peasant dinner – simple and fresh food picked from the garden or locally sourced, all designed to highlight the taste of the new oil.



New oil is traditionally first tasted as a bruschetta  – toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic and topped with the oil. We each made our own. Delicious.



We also added the oil to a dash of salt in tiny bowls – a wonderful dip for fresh vegetables from the garden.



Next came what Len calls an Italian version of hummus, this one made from ceci (chickpeas), drizzled with the oil and topped with a sprig of rosemary. Can’t wait to try this myself.



The dish that followed was a type of bread soup, pappa al pomodoro, topped with a drizzle of oil. Simple, delicious and perfect for an autumn evening. 



Now this is Italy, remember, so you know there is more to follow, and what followed was rosemary roasted chicken and potatoes, with a splash of oil of course!



Now not all olives are turned into oil, as was the case with these tasty herb and orange marinated olives, served as a side dish.



For dessert, we were treated to Paola’s delicious torta della nonna, (grandmother’s cake), a traditional Tuscan dessert with a light custard. (I forgot to ask if she added a drop of the new oil to it!) Not being much of a baker, I bought the others at a local pasticceria. 



So that’s how we celebrate the olive harvest in Cortona, enjoying what Mother Nature provides, combined with the hard work of locals who pick by hand. 

From this…



to this. Doesn’t get much better.



Our thanks to Lapo and Paola for an always entertaining and delicious evening together. Complimenti to the cook and grazie for your friendship!




10 Responses to “The 2017 Olive Harvest”

  1. karenincalabria October 23, 2017 at 12:26 PM #

    It all looks delicious, but I might have had trouble moving past the simple bruschetta.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jeanfromcalifornia October 23, 2017 at 12:52 PM #

    Lovely evening Judy. Look out for Len. He looks like he is going to run off with the cook. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Shelli Isrn October 23, 2017 at 2:05 PM #

    You made us cry reading your blog. Sad because we were not there to share the feast
    With you. Salivating for sure. Hugs to you,
    Len, Paola and of course Lapo. 😊🇮🇹❤️
    Shelli and Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly October 23, 2017 at 3:50 PM #

      Didn’t want to make you sad but then I guess I would be too. Hope there’s some left when you get back here. Hugs to you both as well.


  4. Hilary Martinez October 23, 2017 at 4:58 PM #

    Sounds so inviting…..
    Nice to see Paola and Len!!
    Can’t believe you are still there!!!


  5. Jane Guy McBryde October 23, 2017 at 8:20 PM #

    An amazing meal- so envious! I brought my girls each a bottle of “new” oil from my Cortona visit.


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