There are olive trees all around our village and an olive oil mill run by friends of ours who produce wonderful oil. But I like to taste oils from other areas too, so when I go to Catalunya or Andalucia I always bring back a few bottles. This time I found two oils made from Arbequina olives, one made near to where we were staying, at Castellterçol near Barcelona, and the other from Jerez de los Caballeros in Andalucia. They look and taste quite similar, although the Catalan oil (on the right in the photo) was slightly more peppery.
Arbequina olives are smaller than most other varieties and I was told once by a grower that the advantage of this is that they do not attract the olive fly because there is not enough flesh for it to lay its eggs in. This makes Arbequina olive trees very suitable for organic production as they do not need chemical sprays to protect against the fly.
For supper on Friday night in a restaurant in the village where we were staying, the first course was a salad of red peppers, tomatoes and salt cod. It reminded me that we don’t often enough eat our red peppers raw – because they’re so delicious grilled. They’re very sweet and tasty when they’re raw too, so tonight for supper I made a salad with chopped red and green peppers and sweet onion mixed with cooked potatoes and dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I arranged this around the plates and then added pieces of chicken that had been marinated in lemon juice, garlic and paprika and then fried in olive oil. I garnished it all with some finely sliced red pepper and a few basil leaves.