Jason and Cathy Gibb are the couple behind Nudo. In 2005, they bought and restored a 23-acre olive grove in Italy’s Le Marche. They gave up brilliant careers as TV producers with a hunch that they’d enjoy being olive farmers. In an effort to turn that dream into a profitable business, they collaborated with other producers in the region to launch an olive tree adoption program. Adopters receive a certificate and two shipments of olive oil over the course of a year.
I was given a tree-adoption in the Rosalio Grove which boasts 738 trees, situated between the Monti Sibillini and the Adriatic Coast. If my tree could see it would have views of the Le Marche countryside – a vineyard on one side and a forest at the end where the chingiale (wild boar) roam. The varietals here are the Leccino, Piantone di Mogliano and Pendolino.
The reason for the post is that my spring package has arrived. I had totally forgotten about my Italian tree and unwrapped my Nudo marked package which contained four tins of extra virgin olive oil. There were clear instructions from the growers on how I should really savour the flavour. So I did as they suggested.
* Take a shot glass and pour in a tablespoon of oil
* Cup it, put a hand on top and swirl the oil around, warming it to release the flavour.
* Stick your nose into the cup and inhale deeply
* Slurp the oil, grass, artichoke, almond, tomato leaf, hay, straw, spice and melon are all terms officially recognised by the International Olive Oil Council.
* Swallow and wait for the tingle – a gentle stinging in your throat – a sign of freshness caused by the antioxidants which make the oil so healthy.
Not only does the oil taste fantastic, the colourful tins fit into the summer picnic basket and its screw top and pull lid make it easy to transport. If, when you drain your tin dry, you take a sharp pair of scissors you can prize off the tin top and plant herb seeds to grow on the windowsill.
You can choose your grove too, and when you do you are given a full explanation of olive varietal, tasting notes and a bit about the land and more about the farmer. The difficulty could be which grove you choose, the south facing Madelena or the sunnier plains of the highly productive Il fico?
Provenance is really important to me and I think most everyone who cares about their food, so you might be shocked to know that 4 out of 5 bottles of Italian extra virgin olive oil sold in the UK and the US don’t have what they claim inside the bottle? Sure, it’s oil but it’s been chemically “cut” with nut or sunflower oil or both, and comes from Spain, North Africa or Turkey. Something, I was quite shocked to read.
For £65 a year (plus £15 P&P) you get an adoption certificate, some information about your tree, and two oil packages over the year, a spring package and an autumn package (three flavoured extra virgin olive oils – the stoneground lemon is exquisite).
Also there are some real economic benefit especially to those farming the land. The tree adoption scheme means there’s a guaranteed, stable income for the 15 olive groves and Nudo pay their small producers fair-trade prices, which in turn ensures higher quality than you find in less-expensive olive oils.
The downside is that it doesn’t come with a villa and you only get to adopt a tree from the groves for a year at a time.
For more information about the adoption scheme and the oils visit the Nudo store.