Los Albardinales (Oro del Desierto)
Category: Olive Oil Review
Cuisine: Spanish (well it was in Spain)
Price Range on Average: EUR 7.50-16.00 (per bottle)
Ambiance: Rustic Museum and Restaurant
Address: Oro del Desierto– Ctra. Nacional 340, Km. 474. 04200 Tabernas (Almería), Spain
Tel: +34 950 611 707
Website: www.orodeldesierto.com and www.losalbardinales.com
Last Visited: 2014
Ancient Greeks believed that Olive Trees were gifts from the goddess Athena on the beautiful Greek Island of Crete. Archeological evidence shows that Olive tree cultivation and the production of olive oil dates back to 5000 BC and was used for religious ceremonies, for health improvement purpose, for beauty and of course for food. This wonderful, golden, oil has captivated the senses and the palettes of the Ancient Greeks, the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Roman Conquerors, and the Canaanites and now our homes. Thanks to Rafael and his forefathers for continuing to produce olive oil we can still smell, taste and appreciate olive oil in our homes today. I recently visited Los Albardinales, one of the olive oil producers from the Tabernas Desert of Spain, there I met the wonderful owner Rafael Alonso, whose father and forefathers have long been cultivating the Tabernas desert’s olive trees and producing award winning olive oils.
He was incredibly enthusiastic and passionate about ‘olive oil’ that I felt like a young student again learning about something that is so out of the ordinary. He explained in perfect English how they cultivate the land and how they product the oil. He then went on to tell us about ancient Egyptians and Greeks using olive oil and how he now markets and sells their olive oil in Singapore and UK.
Apparently to my surprise Spain is by far the largest producers of olive oil, producing around 45% of the world olive supply. Italy is however better known for their olive oil as they are simply better at marketing their oil. He did however mention that Italian olive oil is also of excellent quality.
He then generously offered to show us the art of olive oil appreciation – consuming it. Being in love with food, I didn’t need a lot of convincing to try the four different olive oils he presented to us along with nice warm crusty bread. He first asked us to smell each olive oil in a glass and to describe the aromas we can pick up from the glass. The Arbequina oil has an almond and fresh fruit aroma, while Picual has a wonderful scent of a freshly trimmed grass or some may say fresh lettuce aroma.
According to Rafael the level of acidity is also a key factor in choosing a fine olive oil. The lower the acidity levels, the finer the oil with a fruitier taste. He was right in a sense that the olive oil with the least acidity level we tried has the fruitiest aroma and taste. We then looked at the different colours of the oils, from the lightest to the darkest coloured oil. The lightest oil shows hints of amber the darkest oil had a intensely deep green colour. Finally the taste test: having grown up in Macau where we cook with olive oil on a daily basis, after tasting Rafael’s olive oil I felt as if I had never before tasted olive oil. His olive oil is heavenly. You have not tasted olive oil, until you’ve tried Rafael’s oil. The different oils presented different tastes to the palette; each has its own character, some linger on your pallet longer, other gives a sweeter after taste, while others are more delicate in flavour – perfect for grilled fish.
They offer five different bottles of olive oil for sale. The first day’s harvest is known as their ‘Limited Edition Oil’, they also sell their award winning Hojiblanca olive oil, my favourite, which has been selected for the Flos Olei in 2013, obtaining 94 out of 100 points. Hojiblanca has an intense fruity apple note aroma and a spicy after taste, perfect with just a loaf of bread. They also have three other varieties of olive oil with less intense in colour, aroma and flavour but are all of excellent quality. Finally they also sell blended oils from Arbequina, Hojiblanca and Picual varieties, which is good as well. I bought a bottle of each of the olive oils and have been enjoying them one by one since.
If you are fascinated by a desert landscape and in need of some peace and quiet, yet also want to enjoy an excellent bottle of olive oil, then Los Albardinales is the place for you. If you are anywhere near Almeria, I highly recommend that you visit Los Albardinales. The hospitality and knowledge of the owner is second to none. You’ll not only enjoy the learning experience and the ambiance of his place but you will also have a once in a life time experience tasting one of the world’s finest olive oil.
Another point to note is that apart from producing and selling olive oil, they also have a B&B and a restaurant. I did not try their restaurant as I was simply too busy with the olive oil. For this reason I’m afraid I can only provide a review of the experience and of the olive oils.