I'd never seen an olive press in operation before. I once had the misfortune to rent a room in Greece above an olive mill - the old-fashioned type with a huge grindstone that shook the floor as it turned, very early in the mornings. I never quite understood why they were pressing olives in April, though.
As we waited, there was chat about possible yield, optimum ripeness and the maximum time you should allow to lapse between picking and pressing - about 4 days. Olive farmers compared notes on the location of their trees, and on previous years' harvests.
Meanwhile, I watched with fascination as the machinery turned the olives into oil, first stripping them of any leaves, then washing and mashing the fruits and finally extracting the precious liquid. Although the machinery is modern, with no grindstones in sight, it is still noisy and the operators wore ear protection. The deliciously pungent perfume of olives filled the air, in anticipation of the spicy taste of the new oil. I couldn't wait to get home to try some, drizzled on Tuscan bread.
The De Laurentiis Frantoio is at:
Via S. Regolo 54,
Tel. +(39) 349 7512871, fax +(39) 050 650732
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