As i type this blog i am devouring the most divine green and black olives. Olives from Clare Valley’s Evilo Estate which is one of the most fabulous little Clare Valley treasures that i have the absolute pleasure of spruiking.
I’ve been buying my extra virgin olive oil from Evilo Estate for about 12 years now and as i drove away from today’s visit i smiled to myself at the lovely friendship that has grown between myself and one half of the partnership, Deb Dichiera. How often do we truly get to say that? One of the beautiful things about being a country dweller.
In my youth i was guilty of using all types of oils for cooking, salads, marinating, whatever, and i didn’t know what the hell i was doing with any of them until i met Deb and she said; “I use only one oil for everything”. As soon as i got home i ditched all the store bought oils and have never looked back. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is good stuff.
I even make my coconut face & body sugar scrub with it.
When i made my impromptu visit today i was greeted the same as any other day except, today was not like any other day. Today was the last of day of six weeks of ‘harvesting the olives by hand’ at Evilo Estate. Deb and husband, Giulio, have lovingly but, painstakingly, harvested 1200 olive trees for the 2015 harvest and the 20+ harvests prior to that. To see they only had three trees left was, not surprisingly, a great thrill for Deb and an overwhelming sense of relief. But that’s just the beginning…..I’m telling you, after 12 years as a customer who has usually flitted in for a quick purchase and a chat, today gave me a whole new level of appreciation for this hard working couple. I’ve never seen Deb without her infectious smile, not even today after 6 weeks of physical labour most of us would curl our toes at. The produce has always been outstanding but today these olives are tasting utterly delicious for a reason i wasn’t expecting.
Since purchasing Evilo Estate 25 years ago, Giulio and Deb have established a well oiled partnership. (pun intended). In an interesting twist of events, Deb has since discovered her father used to board at what is now her own family home when he worked at Bungaree Station back in the day. The universe really does weave some magical gifts at times.
As we walked through the perfectly rowed olive trees, Deb exclaimed she should be inside cooking because the local distributors are fast running out of her marmalades, jams and, pastes. The overloaded orange trees that have already had massive amounts of fruit picked, will supply the next batch of something utterly delicious to compliment your wine and cheese board.
Returning again to today’s visit and i can’t help but admire the way Deb and Guillio graciously welcome a random spruiker into their home during one of their most busiest times. A glass of wine is poured for the two Debs and we start chatting. What a treat I feel so lucky and the smiles are wide and the cheese and olives are delicious. You would never guess they are flat out and utterly exhausted from six weeks of harvesting. It’s this kind of humble being that endears me to them personally and keeps me going back and recommending their product. They are who they are. Such a great quality and one that endears me to people.
Aside from the wonderful produce what i also love about Evilo Estate is the setting. The ‘shop’ is a small room off the side of the family stone home, adjacent to the outdoor kitchen where Deb does the bulk of her cooking. Enjoying the outdoors and the glorious winter sun makes for pretty great cooking conditions i reckon. It sure would beat an office desk that’s for sure!
Staying true to her style and the quality of the brand, Deb only ever uses produce that is in season. Like the “back fence tomato sauce” for example. And then there’s the chilli quince paste which is the perfect match for a sharp Italian cheese and Clare Valley Riesling.
Others agree the extra virgin olive oil is a winner with Seed Winehouse + Kitchen being the latest to join the growing number of businesses using it in their kitchen. Celebrity chef Simon Bryant is another amongst the mix, ordering it by the 20 litre keg. I bought a 10litre keg this visit as i saw the value and convenience of having my favourite olive oil in an easy to pour vessel. But i did despair to Deb that it would quite possibly mean i would see her less. “No you won’t” was her confident reply and she’s right. It’s not just the oil that keeps me going back!
Evilo Estate’s 2015 harvest extra virgin olive oil is now available in a range of sizes starting at the smaller pouring bottle to the huge 10 & 20litre kegs.
Deb can also host small groups to enjoy platters of her delectable produce and the rustic table in the under cover outdoor kitchen area makes the perfect place to take your friends and show them this little Clare Valley secret. Put it on your list of things to do, even if you are a local.