Some ingredients are used daily in Turkish gastronomy. They stand at the heart of the flavor. Those are honey, olives, pistachios, cheese, bread and extra virgin olive oil of course, pillar of the Mediterranean diet! Turkey produces 16,7 percent of the olive oil in the world. It is the 4th biggest producer after Spain, Italy and Tunisia. A large part of the country is dedicated to cultivate olive trees. It is generously used in cooking and for salad dressing as well as a food preservative. We have tasted many different extra virgin olive oils and enjoyed all of them. We noticed that all of them are extremely smooth and have a more gentle taste than our Spanish olive oils.
A few companies are dedicated to produce premium extra virgin olive oils and there is also a lot of super market cheap olive oils, such as “pure olive oil” (refined oil). We have noticed that many of the good olive oils distinguish in their label if it is “early harvest” or “late harvest”; early harvest being sold more expensively than the latter. In Turkish, they don’t use the term “extra” but only “virgin”.
We have visited two specialized stores of the best olive oils of Turkey: Laleli and Nar Gourmet. They present a selection of their oils as well as related products, like flavored oils, olives, jams and soaps. Flavored oils were an excellent surprise as they use some herbs, flowers and vegetables that are not so common for us; they resulted to be delicious! We loved the bergamot oil, the green tea oil, the red pepper oil and the green pepper oil! We were a little disappointed that the shop tenders couldn’t speak English so we could get very little information about the oils.
Laleli’s shop proudly displays the many international awards their oils have won in the past years. There, we tasted their star extra virgin olive oils: selection, organic and early harvest. Selection is a very harmonious “coupage” (a blend), with hints of citruses in aromas and flavor. It is silky with a peppery finish. Organic is creamy and buttery, delicately soft and fruity. It leaves a very fresh after taste in the mouth and it is peppery. Early harvest deserves its name as the touch of younger olives can perfectly be felt. It is bitterer, with green hints, a little more lumpy. It has a genuine flavor.
Nar Gourmet shop is elegantly decorated and offers many oils for their customers to enjoy. They have developed a selection of 6 different oils to represent 6 different producing regions of Turkey (Bursa, Mersin, Mardin, Balikesir, Manisa…), each one using a particular blend of local olives. After enjoying tasting them all, the overall impression is that they have a very delicate flavor, they are smooth oils, without any defect and with a slight peppery finish. Each of these regional oils presents some subtle differences of fruitiness. One of them, from Mardin, had a stronger, greener and bitterer flavor, more similar to the oils we are used to.
We are glad to have discovered that part of the world’s olive oils! We have enriched our international knowledge on olive oils as well as our bottles collection that you can appreciate at our store during your visit of the OliveOilTour. We hope to see you soon!