Monday, 25 June 2012

The way we are: Cretan olive oil (Κρητικό ελαιόλαδο)

I have always wondered whether it is truly possible to buy olive oil at the supermarket and get high quality stuff. Naturally, as producers and connoisseurs, we don't buy our olive oil from there. It is always bought in bulk, just when it is freshly pressed (whether it's from our own supplies or someone else's). But when I visited friends and relatives in Northern Europe, I decided that it was best to buy pre-packaged olive oil for safety reasons, rather than trying to package the stuff myself (imagine the contents seeping out into your suitcase).

I chose a 2L bottles on the second shelf, as well as the 1L rectagular can on the same shelf: two different varieties (the former is considered 'generic' while the other is 'boutique'). 

Most Cretan supermarkets stock only Cretan olive oil 90% of the time; not only that, but Cretan olive oil is 90% of the time extra-virgin; what's more, it is most likely that the olive oil being sold there will come from the same region, making Cretan olive oil a highly localised product. But how to choose from the varieites on the shelves? I made a choice based on what I considered a high-quality conveniently-packed olive oil. I used my judgment in what I would consider a good olive oil, keeping in mind what other friends from overseas have told us about the kind that they buy when they holiday in Crete, or when they look for Cretan olive oil at their non-Greek supermarkets and olive oil suppliers. In making my choice, I also took into consideration the fact that the same containers were being exported in the same form, so that my friends and family could search for the same product in their own country if they wanted to. We carried 7 kilos of olive oil in our suitcases in cans and bottles, at a cost of approximately €4-4.50 a litre. More expensive varieties were also available on the shelves.

I liked the convenient packaging of OMADIKO - squared, no wobbly bits, with a non-drip spout.

Yesterday, one of my friends finally started using her supplies of the olive oil that I bought for her, after exhausting her supplies of olive oil that she already had in her home. Here's what she wrote:
"I just opened the first bottle of Cretan olive oil and it is really sooooooo good and so so so different from what we buy here!!!! I am afraid to waste it! Rather drink it nip by nip! It is indeed like fluid gold!"
Well, I'm not surprised. It confirms what happened in our own home just after Christmas, when I played a little trick on my family: I bought some olive oil from the supermarket and poured it into our home containers (the ones we use for dressing salads, feta cheese, bread slices, etc) after purposely allowing the supply in the λαδικό to run out.

This act was done under secrecy; if the test were not conducted 'blind', I'm sure the outcome would have been quite different and more judgmental...

No cries of 'What's this?!' or 'The λάδι tastes different'. In terms of colour, texture and taste, there seemed to be no difference. So my trick didn't end up being a trick. In the land of true extra virgin olive oil, there ar no tricks.

Dakos dregs don't get thrown away in our house - they are put in the fridge and eaten with bread during a peckish moment. 
Cretan olive oil is among the best EVOOs in the world market.

Little update: the cheapest pre-packaged locally produced EVOO in Hania can be bought from ABEA at 116 Skalidi St, which sells a range of olive oil products (including body soap and detergent). 

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