Meet Francesca: our new Sicilian olive oil producer

Meet Francesca: our new Sicilian olive oil producer

Born between the mountains and sea, this extra virgin olive oil is telling the story of rural Sicilian identity. 

We were always going to have an olive oil from Sicily.

Sicily and the southern part of Italy has the bulk of the Italy's olive cultivars, and the diversity of flavours across the island is striking.

You also have the iconic Nocellara olives—those big, buttery olives give off real "cool natural wine bar" vibes.

But even in one of the biggest olive oil regions in the world, finding the right partner wasn't straight-forward.

Sicily is a whole other place, with complicated regional, social, and familiar lines.

To put it straight: finding a partner we could trust was a big deal.

Meet Francesca.

Her last name literally means "olive", and her family's ties are deep in this region.

After returning back to the island and taking over when her father had a stroke, Francesca has turned her family business into one centred on quality and sustainability. And her colourful land, filled with centuries-old olive trees, flowering lemon groves, and the iconic prickly pears is something she's work hard to preserve.

With a landscape of olives, citrus, and seasonal vegetables on their land, Francesca explains: "We grew up with our plants and we are aging with them."

She's also fought her fair share of fires, sitting in one of the hottest places in Europe.

But Francesca is tenacious. 

 

Discovering Syracuse.

This part of Sicily kept drawing us in.

It sits on the Eastern side of the island, just down from Catania.

We first came across all its magic on a road trip around the island when we stayed over for a couple of nights Palazzolo Acreide (might just be one of the most charming towns in Italy) and the beautiful Baroque city of Noto.

In fact, we were so in love the countryside that we didn't even visit the city of Syracuse on that visit.

As a city, Syrcuse has its own rich history, with artistic eye-fulls like the outstanding Cathedral in Ortigia, the Fountain of Arethusa (the papyrus fountain), the ancient Greek Theatre, and the beautiful Maniace Castle.

But just a few minutes down the road in Solarino, what we encountered was more that of a"fairy tale" (which also happens to be the name Francesca has given to her own brand).

Trailing bougainvillea and bright lemon fruits dot the landscape, contrasting with the iconic prickly pair cactus structures and olive trees both young and old.

“We are proud to live in a friendly land full of colours and culture, and that is what our oil is about."

 

How to use this olive oil

As always, the best way to understand an oil is to get to know it. Put it in a little cup, swirl it around, and have a smell and a sip. (See more on how you should properly taste EVOOs.)

Let the aromas you smell guide you as to what to make with this oil.

This oil sits in our “every day” range of extra virgins—waiting to be poured over a range of dishes (though, we'd point out it does sit on more of the savoury end unless you're using it in rich desserts).

What the oil tastes like

This extra virgin olive oil is a blend of two different varieties from Francesca's groves: Nocellara and Cerasuola. 

They're both classically Sicilian, with Nocellara having a reputation for bringing green herbaceous notes, artichoke aromas, and stronger bitterness.

Cerasuola can have slightly sweeter elements, with tomato, almonds coming through.

Together, you can expect an EVOOO with ripe vegetable notes and strong aromas thyme and oregano. 

This oil will be a vibrant pop of flavour, with more pronounced notes and mouthfeel than the last oil we shared with the Club from Portugal, so be prepared for something altogether different—though still with some signature grassy and peppery notes.

On the palate, you’re going to feel that sharper bitterness, with a pronounced spice at the end, along with those herb notes coming back in.

How to pair this EVOO...

Get your grills going: this oil is ready for the heat.

Marinade with it for your barbecues, season grilled veg with it, and pour it on a steak.

Paired with smokey flavours and stronger summer produce, this oil is a winner.

Want to stick to the classics? It will be lovely with pastas and definitely should be used in bruschettas. 

Francesca also recommends it over fresh summer shrimps with some lemon and herbs.

Either way, this oil is a winner and one we're so proud to introduce exclusively to the Olive Oil Club this summer.

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