Moveable Feast: Istria’s Overlooked Olive Oil Artisans Part I

Some of the Europe’s best olive oil producers work along meridians with extremely favourable conditions. These typically include blistering heat and proximity to the sea. But even so, not all countries create the same olive. The richness of farmland differs from country to country, as do the intensity and dedication to fruitful farming practices. But in Istria, one of Croatia’s most beloved Adriatic destinations for food and travel, this part of the world is blessed with some of the best terrain for creating olive oils that are more akin to delicate wines. Istrian oils in particular have spicy or grassy notes, they are meant to savour, and they are typically produced in small batches. Small batch production, a hallmark of Istrian olive oil farmers, allows them to capture intense and completely unique flavours that shine bright in their olive oils.

One of those producers is Babić, a long standing producer of extra virgin olive oils in north-western Istria. Many farmers here still use old stone mill methods for extracting oils from their harvest. While this traditional way of processing is beautiful to witness, it tends to diminish the oils intense flavours as this antiquated extraction method takes longer, and some of the refined tasting characteristics in the oils are lost to oxidation. The Babić family uses state-of-the art facilities, cold press techniques and centrifuge processing to extract the highest quality oils on the market today. Excursions to Babić’s family production happen year round, and in addition to fascinating tutorials on olive oil tasting, the family accompanies these excursions with tastings of homemade cheeses, herb infused breads and local wines. Epitourean is proud to work with family run olive oil producers, and to offer our clients a range of these experiences in the culinary excursions that we operate throughout Istria. Visit our website for a more in depth view of the many artisans we share with our clients.




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Rocky Casale