An artisan Spanish olive oil that you will fall in love
A visit to the supermarket to buy olive oil can be a stressful experience. Not because there are not good olive oils but the opposite.
There are so many! Deciding is difficult: do we want olive oil from Spain, or Italy, or France, Greece…? With a fruity taste or better with a nutty end? Light or dark green, golden colour or light yellow? Also, we have to consider the price, event how the bottle looks like!
This post is not a guide to help you to choose the right extra virgin olive oil as it´s a personal and subjective decision. This post is about one specific extra virgin olive oil that I like and has the characteristics I look for when I buy one. As I said, the impulse of buying is subjective and, in terms of food, personal taste makes a huge influence on the buying process, but I hope you find this extra virgin olive oil, Mis Raíces, interesting and would like to try it.
Olive oil hunting
When I´m abroad, I always wander along the ails of supermarkets searching for Spanish products. It´s a kind of hobby and market research that give me some insights about the brands and above all, about the food habits people have in different countries and cities.
That is how I knew about Mis raíces olive oil. Well, to be honest, it was my husband on this occasion who found it out as I was quarantining at our Airbnb during a visit to the family in Reno, NV. He came back from the Whole Food Supermarket very excited: “look what I found! A Spanish olive oil at the Whole Paycheck (as we call it) and looks good!”. The bottle was elegant and classy with the brand in golden letters. “Mis raíces, that means “my roots”. It sounds interesting”, I said. Then I turned the bottle to read the label and I yelled with excitement. “¡It´s from Oliete, Teruel!”. My husband, an American guy who discovered the real “deep” Spain when he came to my hometown to meet my family, never had heard about that town, Oliete, but knew about Teruel so he was as surprised as me. “How the hell an olive oil from Oliete has ended up in a supermarket in Reno? And, above all, at the Whole Food! Well-done for the company!”, he said.
We opened the bottle and tasted. We loved it! It had a marked flavour, not intense that could be overwhelming but not bland, just the right aftertaste. It was balanced too with a hint of bitterness and spiciness but none of them took over the flavour. The nutty end typical from the empeltre olive made me feel at home.
I could be biased by the fact the oil was from my region, Aragón, but my husband was impressed too so I believe it was just the fact the olive oil was exceptional. I knew that area is very well known for the quality of its olive oils and the producers have a good reputation in Spain, where the competition amongst olive oil companies is quite tough.
I was very intrigued about the oil and the producer. I went straight to my computer and googled the name of the olive oil and I fell in love with the story: a family of olive harvesters for 5 generations now! Any ingredient, any dish, any recipe has a story behind it that makes it special and unique; and Mis Raíces olive oil has a beautiful one that caught me.
Turning a family celebration into a business
The Moreno Pastor family comes from Oliete, a village in the Bajo Aragón region in Teruel, Spain. Álvaro and Víctor, the brothers who run Mis Raíces, grew up there, amongst olive trees and crops. They always helped during harvesting time as it was a family tradition and an excuse to gather and celebrate.
In 2016, Víctor decided to quit his job in a multinational company in the food sector and launched Mis Raíces, using the olive trees of the family. The family supported him in the venture and later, his brother Álvaro and his uncle Carlos joined him. They are now producing high-quality olive oil and export to EE.UU., Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Bulgari, and Taiwan.
From Oliete to Taiwan
My question, full of admiration, was “how is it possible that an olive oil produced in a small village in a deserted area in Spain ended up in the supermarkets of EE.UU. or Taiwan?” Víctor gave me the answer: “We were convinced of the quality of the olive oil in our area. We wanted to reclaim that and highlight the importance of our land, our roots and, above all, our olive: empeltre, a unique, distinctive olive that grows in a very limited area in Spain.”
It´s not easy to start up a business in one of the most deserted areas in Spain, probably in Europa. In Oliete and the villages around there are thousands of abandoned olive trees that are now facing a new life thanks to this business and other projects like “Apadrina in olivo” (Foster an olive tree). Álvaro, Víctor, and Carlos are helping to boost the economy of the area creating direct and indirect new jobs working the fields and in the olive mill.
These entrepreneurs are decided to put the name of Oliete in supermarkets all around the world with their products. Besides the extra virgin olive oil, they have started to commercialize 100% artisanal honey from another family of Oliete devoted to apiculture. They also produce the first green beer, made with olives, which is being very popular. I will have to try it! “Our aim is that people discover the flavours and the authenticity of our land not only tasting our products but visiting our area and learning about our roots.”
From Roman times to the XXI century
Oliete is located in the Bajo Aragón region in Teruel. The heritage of harvesting olives goes back to Roman times. Actually, the name Oliete comes from the Latin Olivatum, which means olive grove or olive land.
Perched on a hill next to the Martín River, Oliete´s scenery is a bast extension of ochre land with grey-green patches of olive trees. Here is where the Moreno Pastor family settled and started harvesting olives in 1890; first, for their own consumption, and now, as a family business with the 5th generation in charge of the enterprise. As they say, “despite the passage of years and generations, we continue with the same tradition of taking care of our olive groves with the same passion. Our greatest pleasure is coming together as a family, enjoying time together during the harvest. It is the moment we return to our roots”.
The roots, that´s the key to their success
Roots means raíces in Spanish, hence the name of the olive oil. The roots that link the family to the land, the tradition, the hard work and the excellence. The roots buried in this arid soil keep alive a millenary tradition of olive harvesting and a lifestyle linked to the terroir.
The olive oil is made from empeltre olives, a variety which boasts of coming from the oldest olive trees in Spain and represents less than 1% of olive production in the world. The Bajo Aragón area is one of the few territories where this olive grows. It is part of the Denomination of Origen of Bajo Aragón, which is one of the most conducive areas in the world for olive cultivation and where this extra virgin olive oil is produced.
The olive is a jet-black tone, and it ripens early, anytime between the first week in October until the first week of December. The olives that are obtained are long, asymmetric, and slightly concave. They are a medium size (2.7g) and the proportion of pulp to pit is 5:3.
The olive oil from empeltre olives is yellow in colour, with gold undertones. The aromas are of medium-high intensity, reminding us of fresh grass as well as tomato and artichoke, with the fennel notes that are characteristic of empeltre olives.
In terms of flavour, it has a delicious nutty flavour like almonds and walnuts, both of which give to the empeltre variety its personality and differentiation.
Exquisite Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This olive oil is the result of the heritage the Moreno family wants to preserve. They produce this excellent extra virgin olive oil following the traditional methods of harvesting, pressing, and filtering. It is perfect to accompany any food, from salads to pasta, meats, or raw fish.
If you want to know more about what kind of olive oil you should buy, here you have my recommendations.