EcoOlives project comes to Sofia

There is nothing more rewarding than receiving an email-invitation My Pure Olive to join an event and talk about extra virgin olive oil. This was the case with Ana Sharkova from AVA Creations, the Bulgarian counterpart of the EU EcoOlives Project EcoOlives – Training in Organic Olives and Olive Oil production and marketing, who got in touch in early May 2023. 

Growing the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and food culture is the main purpose of My Pure Olive.

A group of people in a room

Description automatically generated

Therefore, I gladly accepted to be a guest speaker and tutor during the project team’s working meeting in Sofia.

More about the meeting goals one could read here . My purpose now is to share more about the EVOO tasting session, which we enjoyed together. I much appreciated how the local host wished to bridge the Mediterranean olive oil traditions with the local cuisine. One thing is for sure – Mediterranean diet and its philosophy has no borders! It could be smartly applied anywhere and in any season. 

The majority of the participants came from the Mediterranean and knew well about authentic food.

The group was colourful and diverse as is the Mediterranean diet itself. Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal and the non-producing Bulgaria and Germany were represented. It was so enriching to explore three focus topics together:

1. Gastro & cultural olive oil & its traditions in Bulgaria; 2. My Pure Olive Good practices – mission, education & experience; 3. EVOO & food pairing – tasting 3 different early harvested EVOOs from 3 countries and pairing them with traditional Bulgarian recipes. More about EVOO and food pairing one could look into closely here Gastro Club&Events – My Pure Olive

A group of shot glasses with yellow liquid

Description automatically generated

The icing of the cake was an EVOO from a Bulgarian family producer (with traditional olive groves in northern Greece, variety MARONEIA, and 3 silver medals for from Olive Japan, Berlin GOOA and NYOOIC in 2023, APOS Olive oil). The distinguished Croatian variety ISTRIAN BJELICA from Istria region was a very curious EVOO with its pronounced intense Fruitiness and Pungency and very inviting Bitterness (CADENELA brand imported in Bulgaria by Начало – Mediterranium – Добре дошли в Средиземноморието!). To make our tasting even more exciting, we explored the distinct olive variety AYVALIK from the Aegean shores of TURKEY.

For that sublime final touch of our meeting, we enjoyed a tasting menu with traditional Bulgarian dishes.

A table with plates of food and bottles of oil

Description automatically generated
  1. Cream of butterbeans, leek and roasted peppers, seasoned with thyme >> paired with the Croatian oil. We tasted an interpretation of Sundried red bell peppers stuffed with butterbeans from north-east Bulgaria. Since legumes bond perfectly well with intense and leafy greens EVOO profiles, it turned into a perfect match; 
  2. Patatnik with seasonal greens and mint >> paired with the Greek oil. Its herbaceous notes fantastically meet the Rhodopi mountains potato dish in a spring interpretation; 
  3. Revane with walnuts and rose water >> paired with the Turkish oil. This more delicate profile is very suitable for desserts and pairs finely with the Bulgarian rosa Damascena

The two hours turned into a vivid and memorable sharing experience for all of us.

We connected with excitement how rich, diverse and valuable the olive oil world is. It was an honour talking about the liquid gold, known as “the oil of the West”, still with us nowadays. Therefore, I wish all the success to the team in launching the EcoOlives platform in 2024, with its main purpose to support:

Devoted farmers, entrepreneurs, producers and olives processing businesses, organic food followers, marketing experts, trainers, olives and olive oil lovers who anticipate and  wish to do business in a more sustainable way

The main objectives of the EcoOlives project are practical and future oriented: 

enhance the development opportunities and boost the growth potential of EU olive farmers and olive oil producers by entering a market of organic olives and olive oil (OO&OO); 

develop specific knowledge and competences in the EU olive farmers and olive oil producers to produce and promote OO&OOs by providing a transversal, multidisciplinary and tailor-made training on organic olives and olive oil production, pest control and promotion; 

remind and develop awareness that the olives and olive groves are part of the cultural and historical heritage of the country; 

encourage the application of organic farming and production approaches among new and existing olive farmers and olive oil producers; 

promote a wider use of organic olives and olive oil among EU customers.

And finally, the expected impact is much inspiring.

EcoOlives project will develop an interactive training course hosted onto e-learning platform, a manual for trainers and a guide on certification of organic olives and olive oil. All project results will be delivered free of charge and accessible online.