The taste of liquid gold

Glasses used for tasting olive oil.

Bread, wine and olive oil: the holy trinity of Portuguese food that applies to all the regions, north, south, east and west (including Madeira and the Azores, of course!).

I’ve had a few wine tasting experiences in several parts of the country and if someone invites me to something like a bread baking workshop I’m game but… Olive oil tasting? I had read something about it somewhere but couldn’t remember much about it (I blame it on Didi and sleep deprivation!). When I got an email from LOA – The Olive World inviting me to visit their shop in Lisbon and taste a few of the olive oils they’re selling I knew I was in for something special.

Olive oil is sometimes referred to as “liquid gold” because not only of its colour, but also because of how precious it is, in terms of nutrients and uses. To me, olive oil is the unsung hero of Portuguese culture. Sure, people today care more about its quality than ever before, but we have to remember that for centuries it was a staple in Portuguese life, used in cooking, baking, skin moisturizing, protection against the evil-eye… You name it!

If you’re visiting Lisbon LOA- The Olive World (in Calçada do Galvão, nº 45A) is your chance to travel across the country exploring different flavours. A short walk (less than 10 minutes) takes you from the chaos of people and traffic in Belém to the quiet of this small family-run shop.

Inside, you’ll find not only award-winning Portuguese olive oils but also cookies, spreads, preserves and soaps using olive oil. Oh, and there are also a few kitchen utensils made out of olive wood. How cool is that?

No, not all olive oil is created equal. If you think that it is just something healthy to season your salad with, think again: olive oil, much like wine, can be made from a single variety of fruit or from a mix; its flavour will also have subtle differences depending on the type of terrain where the trees were planted, weather conditions, etc., just like wine; and if you drink a tiny sip of olive oil and let it slide down your throat you will notice the changes in flavour, going from mild and earthy to spicy and strong, for example – sort of what happens with, you guessed it, wine!

Granted, sipping olive oil from a fancy glass won’t make you look cool (unlike wine), but the tasting experience was fun. It involved some swirling and sipping, covering and uncovering of blue round glasses, in a game of taste and smell.

Telling you *all* about it would spoil the fun, however. This is something you really have to try for yourself. Remember the most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner and it’s a great time to visit Portugal! And of you’re concerned about taking bottles on the plane with you, don’t worry: you can order through their website. Olive oil is an incredibly versatile product that you can use in your everyday seasoning, cooking and baking, so why not use great products to do so?

The website:

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  1. Indeed, olive oil tasting is a different way of knowing about olive oil and the hidden magic of it. Thanks for this, will go there when the opportunity comes for sure 🙂

  2. When we went on a week’s river trip along the Douro I was so disappointed not to have had a trip to somewhere that produced olive oil. It was the same with wine. Both great assets to promote Portugal to holidaymakers and neither were exploited. Even the Israelis who were part of the cruise queried why we were only taken to Port Houses.

    Great post and I feel inspired to seek out somewhere for myself.

    • That’s strange… I’ve been on a few of those Douro boat trips and as far as I remember some companies offered the possibility of a small tour to vinyeards in the area (and which produced more than Port). I went on one such tour, actually. The thing with olive oil is that it is so common here in Portugal that I don’t believe most people see/understand its full potencial, which is a shame!

  3. Think Portuguese Olive Oil is some of the best we ever have had. .. difficult to find outside of London in England but there are a few we have found thank goodness.

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