A Travellerspoint blog

December 2010

If This Is Tuesday, It Must be Oleiros - 14 Dec 2010

Back to Lisboa, with Mixed Feelings

Spent the morning tidying up my little goatshed room, home for the past 3 weeks. I can't believe I managed to pack all my things without my suitcases bulging like Billy Bunter! But I am bulging!! Feel like a Russian sausage in a Vienna skin!! It's all the wine and 3 good meals a day. No worries! A week or 2 in Lisboa and back to my fruit and one big meal routine should drop the extra 2 kgs.

Rhys and Lucy are still here for another week, keeping Steve company. Then everyone heads off for Christmas. What??!! Christmas??!!! I cannot believe that this year has flown even faster than the last.
Rhys_and_Lucy.jpg

Steve is such a darling! He has offered to take me to view a property which is for sale. One of the locals has moved back into the village and his quinta, in the valley close to Eiro di Miguel, is begging for a new owner. Such a good price, it's almost a steal - c'mon tribe!! Who's in with me??!! Quality of life is great here! Who knows!!
Quinta_for_sale.jpgNatural_spring.jpgSolid_bedrock.jpg4Peek-a-boo.jpgPICT1632.jpg
Rio_Zezere_1.jpg
View from my quinta...how can I not be in love with this place??

Is this Avalon or what

Is this Avalon or what

How solid are these walls

How solid are these walls

So it's our trip to Oleiros to hit the internet café, do some last minute shopping and of course the market for barbeque chicken. My bus leaves at 3pm....I have such mixed emotions - the end is always a new beginning and I am excited for the next phase of my journey, but really sad to say goodbye to my friends here....who knows if I ever see them again?
Photo-0042.jpgI'm leaving town

I'm leaving town

Hey!! Sending big smooches to all!

Hey!! Sending big smooches to all!

Heeheeeeheeeheee
Bi!!

Posted by Gypsy Lee 00:17 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

QdV - Olive Oil Tasting ~ 9 Dec 2010

The way the professionals do it!!

37 litres of delicious, home-grown, flavoursome olive oil! A great harvest and up on last year's yield. Well done!! The Galega varietal is most often grown in this area. A small, round, black or brownish-black toned olive, it has a somewhat pointed shape and distinctively flavored meat. Of course the locals will tell you it's the best varietal for olive oil!!

And so Steve, Richard and I embark on an official tasting. I present here, a short lesson in exploring the flavours and qualities of olive oil.

Flavors in olive oil are determined by a wide range of factors including the type of olive (varietal), ripeness at harvest, growing conditions (climate, soil type), crop maintenance (irrigation, pest control), handling of fruit from tree to mill, and the milling process itself. For example, oil made from predominantly unripe (green) olives contain flavors described as grassy, artichoke, or tomato leaf, whereas riper olives tend to yield softer flavors often described as buttery, floral, or tropical.
Quinta_dan..vening1.jpgQuinta_dan..vening2.jpgQuinta_dan..vening3.jpg

The first step in learning how to taste olive oil is to understand how our senses work. Perception of flavor relies on both our senses of taste and smell. The ability to taste is quite limited; receptors on our tongue can only discern sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and umami (the flavor of protein). All other information that we think of as flavor is actually perceived by smelling food through the back of our nostrils (retro-nasally) while it is in our mouths. To illustrate this fact, think about how little flavor we perceive when we have a cold – this is because one cannot smell food retro-nasally when one’s nose is stuffed up.

When tasting olive oil, much of the oil’s characteristics are perceived through the sense of smell. Though most people enjoy olive oil with other foods, the following steps allow us to focus on the olive oil’s flavor without distraction:

Pour a small amount of oil (about 1 tablespoon) into a small tapered (wine) glass.Hold the glass in one hand and use your other hand to cover the glass while swirling the oil to release its aroma.Uncover the glass and inhale deeply from the top of the glass. Think about whether the aroma is mild or strong. You may want to write down descriptions of the aromas that you detect at this point.Next you slurp the oil; this is done by sipping a small amount of oil into your mouth while “sipping” some air as well. (When done correctly, you will make that impolite noise that would cause you to be scolded when you were a child!) Slurping emulsifies the oil with air that helps to spread it throughout your mouth - giving you the chance to savor every nuance of flavor with just a small sip of oil.Finish by swallowing the oil and noticing if it leaves a stinging sensation in your throat.

Each of the above actions focuses our attention on a specific positive attribute in the oil. First we evaluate the olive fruit aroma (fruitiness) by inhaling from the glass. When the oil is in our mouths we further evaluate the aroma retro-nasally as well as determine amount of bitterness on our tongues. Lastly we determine the intensity of the oil’s pungency in our throats as we swallow it.

Perhaps you noticed that the oil’s color is not addressed during sensory assessment. The reason is that contrary to the common belief that golden oil is mild and dark green oil is robust, color is NOT an indicator of either the oil’s flavor or quality. In fact, in scientific assessments, we sample from specially designed blue glasses that obscure the color of the oil. Tasting from a dark glass prevents us from having preconceptions about the flavor of the oil before we actually smell or taste it.

Worldwide over 1,000 varieties of olives are grown, which should give consumers a wide range of flavor possibilities. Taste is personal, so not everyone will agree on which varietals, and other factors, produce the best oil. However, tasting oils in a methodical fashion will help to educate your palate, and you will be able to select oils with flavor characteristics that you enjoy and enhance your meals.

Thanks to Nancy Ash, Strictly Olive Oil, for this information.

Well I learnt a thing or 2 here which I am happy to share!! The colour of last year's oil and the new batch differ slightly. It seems we picked a little earlier, so there is a more green hue. Steve was a bit concerned but in the tasting I actually preferred the newer, "greener" oil. Its flavour was fresh and very olivey!!! And in true Steve fashion, when it came to my turn to taste the oils, he added piri piri to a 3rd glass!! Cheeky!! But I handled that one with aplomb - "too salty" was my comment!!
Quinta_dan.._glass_.jpgQuinta_dan..vening4.jpgQuinta_dan..vening5.jpg

Posted by Gypsy Lee 23:35 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

My Last Free Day @ Quinta da Vinha ~ 12 Dec 2010

semi-overcast

I almost can't believe that the time to say goodbye is here. It really snuck up on me and I am ill-prepared!! It has been an AMAZING time here - thank you Steve. I leave with the fondest of memories and the hope that I will visit again soon. You have been an incredible host, even on those days that you weren't your usual, jolly self (but we know why and it's cool!!). Thanks for going out of your way to make each volunteer's experience special - comfort, warmth, good food, great wine and jeropigo, hard work, a sense of belonging and being part of your great project, many laughs, unexpected treats (like a Sunday lunch downtown, coffee in bed and pasteis de nata), hair-raising rides in the bakkie, a true taste of rural life in Portugal. There are not enough superlatives!!

I was determined to spend my last off day with a pique-nique down at Eiro di Miguel, another stunning abandoned village. Its situation is picture perfect. On the edge of a high drop down to the magnificent Rio Zezere. The weather didn't play along though, and after Steve dropped me off on his way into town, I took a slow stroll down....and down....and down...thinking all the time that I need to get back up again, and also wondering if I might encounter a wild boar along the way. This is their territory and one is permitted to hunt the javali, popular for its meat. So I made a lot of noise as I went along, carrying a branch to make me appear big and strong!!! I didn't get to take a pic of one, but here you can see why I made so much noise!! www.bragancanet.pt/patrimonio/faunajavali.htm ~ and one not so bad here www.bragancanet.pt/patrimonio/faunajavali.htm

Beautiful_.._quinta.jpgFungi1.jpgFungi3.jpgFungi2.jpgheather_in.._forest.jpgMisty_forest.jpgPortugal's highest peak in the distance

Portugal's highest peak in the distance

Spider web of gems2

Spider web of gems2

Spider web of gems

Spider web of gems

Eiro di Miguel

Eiro di Miguel

Drinking fountain in the abandoned village of Eiro di Miguel

Drinking fountain in the abandoned village of Eiro di Miguel

The village was soooo disappointing. Nothing like Felgueira and its great character. This place is just plain sad, with few original buildings and many rather uninspiring, ramshackle homes built in plain square forms. So the picnic didn't happen here. I took a VERY slow walk back up to the top, on another route and found my gem!! A perfect little stone cottage, in the mountains, just for Lee. I can see her living here with a goat or 2, a cow, some chickens and a few cats 'n dogs. Steve said he could also see me here.....reclusive, making my brew in a cauldron - if being a healer and making herbal remedies is akin to a witch, then I guess you could call me one!!
My_farm1.jpgMy_farm4.jpgMy_quinta6.jpg

Further on to a visit at Laurinda's little supply store and a well appreciated jeropigo to warm the heart and body.
Laurindas

Laurindas

Laurinda and Moi

Laurinda and Moi

And this is why I am totally in love with this place - for me, more beautiful than this is hard to find!
Breathtaki..autiful.jpg

On the road back to the quinta, I found the perfect spot for my pique-nique - crusty bread, home-made hummous, ham, cheese and a small glass of vinho tinto. Simple, but divine! Pretty much describes life here on Quinta da Vinha!
Where_I_had_my_picnic.jpg

Posted by Gypsy Lee 05:21 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

The Olive Press in Abitureira - 6 Dec 2010

At last the olives have been picked at Quinta da Vinha and we are all excited to take them to the press. The harvest was good, collected 8 bags - this equates to 40 litres of olive oil.
Us delivering olives

Us delivering olives

Olives delivered to the press

Olives delivered to the press

Olive press1

Olive press1

Olive press2

Olive press2

Olive press4

Olive press4

Olive press5

Olive press5

Olive press6 residue

Olive press6 residue

Olive press7 oil before cleaning

Olive press7 oil before cleaning

Olive press8

Olive press8

Here you can see the process....sorry if you get a stiff neck - I aint George Lucas!!

Posted by Gypsy Lee 05:19 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Quinta da Vinha deserves a few more pages!!

I have tried as best possible to keep my blog all neat and tidy...the perfectionist in me...but I believe that has been healed!! So here are more random pics of my time there, shared with Steve (our host), volunteers Alex & Tanguy from France, Rosa and Chen from the Netherlands and Richard from USA-South Africa; local friend José and his son Didier; Laurinda - the most gracious proprietor of our local coffee shop; Pete & Sue, neighbours from the UK and many more wonderful local folk that made my time here so special.

Thanks to each of you for the memories!
yet another window

yet another window

Us having dinner with the neighbours

Us having dinner with the neighbours

This is sooo Portugal

This is sooo Portugal

The lush, juicy, sweet, dangerous medronho

The lush, juicy, sweet, dangerous medronho

Rosa the toad - she's huge

Rosa the toad - she's huge

Rosa and Vittoria

Rosa and Vittoria

Rosa Richard and Vittoria

Rosa Richard and Vittoria

Pure contentment

Pure contentment

My room and and my wet clothes

My room and and my wet clothes

Moi making fire every night in my room

Moi making fire every night in my room

Lee drinking in the dawn

Lee drinking in the dawn

It was cold and blustery

It was cold and blustery

Rosa always had to wriggle out the bakkie while Chen sat like a lady

Rosa always had to wriggle out the bakkie while Chen sat like a lady

'Shrooms from the quinta

'Shrooms from the quinta

Posted by Gypsy Lee 05:12 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

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