Martinborough Olive Harvest Festival
Jo Elwin celebrates winter and olives at the Martinborough Olive Harvest Festival
I do have a tendency to go on and one of the things I go on about is how many events happen in summer when we really need good reason to get out more in winter. So when the invitation to attend the Martinborough Olive Harvest Festival arrived, it was an instant yes. Martinborough in June is gorgeous, with its blocks of bare grapevines interspersed with blocks of olive trees — lots of them — which of course keep their leaves so they are nice to have around in winter.
My festival started with lunch at Peppers Parehua where I was staying. Chef Bram Ellis created a three-course menu with a provincial South Wairarapa theme that suited the luxurious country estate setting and showcased Molive olive oils and the oils and wine from Brodie Estate. After tasting the oils from both estates and learning why they all taste so different — soil, time of harvest, grape variety and blending — we sat down to lunch. A jerusalem artichoke soup with extra virgin olive oil foam was served with Brodie Estate 2014 Angel’s Sigh Rose. Next, served with their 2010 pinot noir, was a Provencal cassoulet of Wairarapa merino with figs, pearl onions and Parkvale button mushrooms, all of which made provincial South Wairarapa a very fine place to be. Dessert was an orange olive oil-infused chocolate fondant that, thanks to the olive oil, had a silky texture and an intense orange flavour.
Peppers Parehua jerusalem artichoke soup
Bram served this soup with a Brodie Estate extra virgin olive oil foam. For us at home an EVOO drizzle works just as well.
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 kg jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into chunks
500ml chicken stock or vegetable stock (plus extra for thinning if required)
New Zealand extra virgin olive oil, to serve
- Heat the butter in a large pot over a medium-high heat and cook the onion and celery until soft, about 10 minutes; do not let them brown. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Sprinkle with some salt.
- Add the jerusalem artichokes and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the jerusalem artichokes begin to break down (45 minutes to an hour).
- Let the soup cool slightly then blend or push it through a sturdy sieve until nice and smooth, add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, reheat and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with chargrilled sourdough.
Peppers Parehua is a very pretty walk from town which was perfect because I needed to walk off that lunch. I was off to
try out a couple of the local bars and enjoy a mulled wine or two as I wandered the night market taking place in the village square. It was a perfectly clear, very chilly evening and it was nice to be rugged up and out among it. I wandered the stalls, mulled wine in hand, chatting with locals who had all gathered for this annual event. A soak in the hot tub in my suite at Peppers was a pleasant finish to the day.
There was plenty of action the next day — olive grove walks and tastings and talks on natural beauty and healthy living with olive oil. I popped in to see James and Ann at Brodie Estate because I needed to secure Ann’s recipe for curing olives. I’ve always wanted to give it a go and hers were particularly delicious. Brodie Estate offers a one-stop shop — you can taste the olive oils and the wine at the same time.
Brodie Estate cured olives
- Select olives you wish to cure. Discard any that are soft or blemished. Prick each olive with a sharp knife. Place in a container — stainless steel is best but food grade plastic is ok — and cover the olives with water. Weigh down the olives at the top so that they are completely submerged. Change the water each day for 25 days. At the end of this time, and if they are still bitter, continue to immerse and change the water until they are edible.
- Drain the olives and carefully check them, discarding any that are soft. Place in clean jars.
- Prepare a light brine solution of 6 Tbsp non-iodised salt to 16 cups water (adjust this to suit the amount of olives you have). Pour over the olives leaving 1½ cm at the top.
- Add your own combination of marinade ingredients. Ann uses peeled garlic cloves, sliced longways, and a selection of freshly ground coriander, cumin, chilli, whole cardamom pods, fennel seeds, peppercorns and sprigs of thyme, rosemary, oregano and bay leaves.
- Agitate to mix through the olives. Finally cover with New Zealand extra virgin olive oil (Ann uses Brodie Estate, of course) and seal. Label each jar with its particular marinade ingredients. They are ready to enjoy in a couple of weeks.
Baked with flavour
Down the road at Olivo the mechanical tree shaker was in action and Alice Arndell (aliceinbakingland.com) was serving tea and cakes made with a range of Olivo infused oils. You will find recipes for Alice’s lemon thyme cake, and chocolate fennel brownie on bite.co.nz. Owners Helen and John Meehan were charming hosts, I tried every one of their infused oils and could not decide on a favourite, each one was intensely good. I settled on fennel for my pork dishes; porcini for soups, pastas, risottos and to drizzle over my eggs for breakfast; and lemon for well, just about everything. Helen uses Olivo lemon-infused oil to whip up batches of muffins for her pickers using Alison Holst’s olive oil muffin recipe which she has adapted. They are light, fluffy and extra lemony. I added sultanas to mine..
Lemon yoghurt muffins
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup Olivo lemon-infused olive oil (stocked at Farro)
1 large egg
½ tsp salt
1 cup plain low fat yoghurt
¼ cup lemon juice
2 cups self-raising flour
- Heat oven to 200C with rack just below the middle.
- Stir the sugar, oil, egg, salt, yoghurt and lemon juice together with a fork or whisk, until thoroughly mixed.
- Sift flour over the mixture and fold everything together until the flour is just mixed in but do not mix until smooth.
- Spoon mixture into 12 regular or 24 mini muffin pans which have been oiled.
- Bake for 10 -12 minutes or until centres spring back when pressed and muffins are lightly browned. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then remove from pans and cool on a rack.
A demonstration by Ruth Pretty was my last stop at the Martinborough Olive Harvest festival. As entertaining and informative as always, Ruth made a lemon olive oil cake, a dark chocolate olive oil mousse with orange sugar snaps and these apple and olive oil loaves made in baby loaf moulds. Serve them cut in tiny slices spreading the cream cheese frosting on as you would butter.
Apple and olive oil loaves
(Makes 7 baby loaves — each mould has a volume of 150ml)
1 cup flour
¾ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
60ml extra virgin olive oil
80g caster sugar
¼ vanilla pod, cut in half lengthwise (or ¼ tsp vanilla extract)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1½ apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm dice (braeburn is good here)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
45g chopped walnuts
1 egg white
- Heat oven to 170C. Lightly grease 7 baby loaf moulds (or 12 muffin tins) and line bases with baking paper.
- Place sultanas and water in to a small pot and place over a medium-low heat and simmer until sultanas have absorbed water. Remove from heat and cool.
- Sift flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda into a bowl.
- Into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a beater attachment place oil and sugar. Scrape seeds from vanilla pod and add to bowl. Beat until combined.
- Add egg and beat until smooth and thick. Add apples, sultanas, zest and walnuts and fold in using a large spoon.
- Place egg white in a clean bowl and whisk to soft peak stage.
- Add flour mixture to oil/apple mixture and fold in.
- Add half the egg white and fold into the batter. Gently fold in the remainder. Spoon batter into prepared tins.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until loaves spring back when lightly prodded in centre. Sit on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, remove from tins and cool completely. Remove paper from bases and frost generously with apple cream cheese frosting (see recipe below).
Apple cream cheese frosting
30g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
35g muscovado sugar
30ml apple syrup
80g cream cheese, at room temperature
- Place butter, sugar and apple syrup into bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a beater attachment and beat until smooth and fluffy.
- Scrape down the sides of bowl and add cream cheese. Beat frosting until completely smooth.