This year London’s favourite and only fully independent market is celebrating its 1000th anniversary. Borough Market has long been synonymous with the food trade; its position on London Bridge has been attracting traders since the 13th century and even today it is renowned as a source of exceptional British and international produce. From spices and salamis to scallops, scotch eggs and duck confit sandwiches, one thing I’ve always loved about Borough Market is its diversity. This is one place where quantity doesn’t compromise on quality and even the recent national shortage of olive oil hasn’t seemed to affect its supply.
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the founder of Greek deli Oliveology, Marianna, can be found with a selection of extra virgin, cold pressed olive oils and unpasteurised Kalamata olives from the family-owned farm at the foot of the Taygetus mountains, in a small village near Sparta.
‘We only work with independent, artisan farmers who produce truly high quality items using traditional and sustainable techniques. In this way we can help preserve traditional methods and support the survival of independent local communities in Greece.’
Free samples are everywhere at Borough Market and yet, while you can usually blag enough to constitute a pretty substantial meal, it’s products like these which can easily turn a harmless olive into a £25 tin of extra virgin olive oil – no guilt involved. I was fortunate enough to receive a tin of Oliveology’s limited edition Special Reserve olive oil, cold extracted up to 22°C with apples, walnuts, cinnamon, honey, lemon and sage. It’s certainly not cheap but it’s worth every penny, and shouldn’t be viewed under the same umbrella as your everyday cooking oils.
“The ingredients are very difficult to combine in the right balance with the olives, and it is not possible to do it well in normal commercial amounts. What makes the oil so special is that all the ingredients are pressed at the same time as the olives. The easiest way to make such a flavoured oil would to be to make the olive oil first and then create an infusion later—but it would be a completely different product, as some of the subtle flavours of the different ingredients would be missing.”
Beautifully packaged and exquisite in taste, the clever layering of citrus and fruit with peppery bite and distinct olive flavour adds a depth you don’t find in the bland but inoffensive likes of Bertolli, Filippo Berio etc. It’s Christmas in a tin and Marianna claims it’s just as good over fruit salads and ice cream as lobster and prawns.
Olive oil runs through Mediterranean culture and with no chemical curing, colourings, additives, hormones, caustic soda or brine, Oliveology produces raw superfoods as nature intended. They’re ‘sharing and enjoying the culinary treasures and gastronomic traditions of Greece’, and the health benefits and ‘superior organoleptic properties’ of their naturally cured Kalamata olives and cold pressed olive oils are merely a perk.
This year the small company added two more Great Taste Award Gold Stars to their collection, making an impressive total of 14 Gold Star awarded products. Because extra virgin olive oil isn’t intended for cooking, it’s for tasting. Even Oliveology’s ‘standard’ extra virgin olive oils are delicately infused with wild saffron, sage and rosemary. It’s olive oil for showing off and saving, drizzling over soups, salads and dunking chunks of bread in as if on holiday. Or birthdays of course. And when there’s a momentous occasion like a millennium to be celebrating, I can think of no better present than Oliveology.
Click here to visit the Oliveology website