Friday, 22 October 2021

Olive Picking Experience in Podstrana: A Short and Visual Story

October 22, 2021 - After patiently waiting a year for the next olive picking season, I encouraged myself to take a closer look at this tradition. The result? A beautiful day, a great experience, thousands of olives, new friends, and many, many photos!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a reflection as a result of the two years since I arrived in Croatia. In it, not only did I want to share several anecdotes about that time, but I felt encouraged to list ten reasons why I believed that it could be easy for someone to adapt their lives here in Croatia, based on my own experience. If I could be able to summarize that article in a few words, I think I could do so by saying that Croatia is a country that successfully manages to harmoniously combine heritage, ruralism, and ancient traditions, with development, urbanism, and Western influence. It is a country where you can walk the elegant streets of Ilica in Zagreb or Marmontova in Split, as well as visit the fields of Slavonia or the vineyards of Istria, and not feel any kind of barriers or class gaps. It is, in short, a country for everyone.

There are many ways to prove to yourself that you have managed to adapt effectively to a new country: learning the language, making new friends, finding a job, buying a house, learning how to prepare a local dish, and more. But I feel that I personally cannot feel fully integrated in Croatia if I do not follow closely the activities and traditions that its people have carried out for hundreds of years. The great thing about Croatia is that there is a peaceful coexistence between these traditions and their respective industries (and in some cases, it can be exclusive to home production). In my country, on the other hand, many of these traditional activities are being displaced by large industries, such as consumer fishing, wine, or agriculture. However, it is not my intention to delve into a very complex topic that may require me to know about topics that I still need to learn more about. What I want to say is that in Croatia I find it very difficult for an activity inherited by generations to be interrupted by a dominance of the industrial sector, but rather that people can continue making their rakija, their wines, their olive oil, their harvests, and their fishing, with an authentic feeling of belonging and, at the same time, feeling fairly rewarded for their effort, as people here value highly their local and home-made products.

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Olive oil, in particular, has always been one of the cornerstones in our kitchen at home, where my parents have always done wonders with its help. We were glad to know, when we moved, that in Croatia it was equal or even more important in their diet than in ours. It took us little time to recognize the high quality of Croatian olive oil. However, I was sad that after two years in Croatia and consuming its world-renowned olive oil, I felt so distant from the enormous process behind its production. I knew absolutely nothing about how olive oil is made, or about olive trees, or about olives. Nothing at all.

In Podstrana, where I live, I find myself surrounded by small fields of cultivation of apples, lemons, watermelons, cabbages, as well as olive trees. Throughout last year, especially at the end of the summer, I have noticed different people who come to take care of their crops, but few or no people in the olive trees. It was in October-November of 2020 that I saw people pick olives for the first time, and that's when I discovered that it was in fact the season. I felt like I had missed a huge opportunity (laziness and shyness won me over, not gonna lie) to get closer and learn more about olive picking. I decided that in the following season I would learn more about this tradition.

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I patiently waited this year for October to arrive, and a few days ago I saw that they were picking olives in the distance. This time I did not hesitate, I took my camera and walked over to where they were. It was there that I met one of the kindest families from Podstrana. From the moment I introduced myself, I had never felt so well received by strangers, and they did not hesitate for a second to allow me to accompany them and document their work. For me, it was a great relief, since at some point I overthought that they would feel invaded by my presence both on their property, and in a time where they can share their privacy in a traditional family activity. But they didn't bother, and I think they were not only impressed and glad to hear me speak Croatian, but they may have been happy to see someone genuinely interested in learning more about olive picking.

The father, Jozo, dedicated almost three hours to telling me everything about his olive trees and olive oil, while he collected olives along with his wife and son. Jozo and his son Ivo educated me on the technique used to carefully extract olives from the trees, using a small plastic rake to ''brush'' the branches full of olives, as well as the high quality of these olives, called ''Levantin'', for the subsequent oil production process that would come later. The weather was perfect, as it felt like a summer day infiltrated in the fall, with a radiant sun that did not burn your skin. Still, the shadow of a twenty-year-old olive tree protected us. All you could hear was Jozo's endless but nourishing olive lessons, as well as these constantly falling like rain from the tree over the blue plastic carpet.

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After three hours of a lot of learning and thousands of olives scattered on the ground, it was time to go and it was time for the family to collect all the olives in bags. It was a very fruitful afternoon for everyone, as I returned home with much more knowledge about olive picking as well as numerous photos and videos, and they returned home with almost 150 kilos of olives, from a single tree! According to Jozo himself, this particular year had been a very good one for his olive trees, and the gentle climate was key for them to produce so many olives.

Before I left, I exchanged phone numbers with Ivo, and it was there that I passed them the photos I had taken and, soon, a small short film that I will prepare about this particular experience of olive picking. They also promised me a bottle of their olive oil, which I look forward to trying soon.

It has been one of those (few) days and anecdotes in which I return home with a real smile, and that reminds me of how right my decision to come to Croatia was, and how close I am to being able to adapt to this beautiful country. If there is one thing I am sure of, it is that I will not be able to die in peace without at least one olive tree in my future home!

Here are some pictures I took from this wonderful day of olive picking in Podstrana:

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When it comes to olive oil, Croatia is one of the leading countries in the industry. From Istria to Dalmatia, you can find all the information you need to know about the origins, processes, and where to buy Croatian olive oil on the Total Croatia page, now in your language!

For more news like this, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Vodnjan Oil Mill Opens Most Modern Oil Mill in Croatia

October 17, 2021 - Heritage, tradition, and expertise continue to form the core of the Vodnjan oil mill, which has been renovated and equipped with the latest technology and is entirely digitized with the most sophisticated software to control olive oil production. 

When you mention olives and oil processing, it's not hard to think of Vodnjan, the first association with the oldest oil mill in Istria and Kvarner, reports Glas Istre.

Located in the heart of the city in Trgovačka Street, the Vodnjan Oil Mill has been dictating the latest trends in olive growing for many years. In addition to continuous investments in improving all technological processes to make the oil top quality after processing, they have always been guided by the idea that history and experience are their greatest value. As a result, the entire Vodnjan region is an inexhaustible nursery for hardworking farmers, and Vodnjan has established itself as a leader in olive growing in this part of Europe.

A significant contribution to the development of olive growing in southern Istria was created at the Vodnjan Oil Mill, where olives have been processed without interruption since 1911. As a result, the oil mill has become a recognizable symbol of olive growing in the Vodnjan region and the entire Istrian area. All this time, in collaboration with the local community and olive growers, they have successfully built the story of the best extra virgin olive oil in the world. Given that the oil mill building, which dates from the 19th century, has been located in the same place for 136 years, they are the pioneers of olive growing in Istria. At this plant, oil was obtained in the past by using stone mills and presses, and some of them, as witnesses of the time, are still exhibited today as valuable in the area of Vodnjan.

"This season, we have decided on a significant business step forward, certainly the biggest in the history of the oil mill. With the latest investments and the purchase of the most modern technology and machinery from the latest production series of the world-famous machine manufacturer in the oil mill Pieralisi, we have achieved what we have been striving for all along. Heritage, tradition, expertise continue to form the core of our plant, which has been renovated and equipped with the latest technology and has been fully digitized with the most sophisticated software to control the processing process," said the Vodnjan Oil Mill.

"In its long history, the oil mill has always kept pace with technological achievements in olive growing. The latest investment in mechanization ranks us among the most modern oil mills in Croatia. We have always wanted to be one step ahead, and we are glad to be recognized as leaders in olive growing in this part of Istria. In the last few months, the building, which has been in the same place since 1885, has undergone a complete renovation. At more than 460 square meters, the entire interior of the plant shone in a new guise, and the exterior of the building was renovated with strict protection and conservation. Since the Vodnjan Oil Mill is under the protection of the Ministry of Culture and, as such, is on the List of Industrial Heritage of the Republic of Croatia, it was a great challenge to implement valuable technological equipment that accelerates the process of accepting olives to the highest environmental standards.

After several months of intensive work on adapting the exterior and interior of the building, with which we hired about 20 local companies, Vodnjan has taken on a new, more modern look. Our goal was to keep the identity of the oldest olive processing plant on the Peninsula, and at the same time, modernize the plant and offer our customers recognizability. As a result, we managed to get a combination of a modern building with the most modern plant in the production of olive oil.

We are welcoming this year's harvest season equipped with entirely new Molinova olive processing machines from the Italian manufacturer Pieralisi, whose capacity is twice as large as before. These are the most modern mixers for receiving 800 liters of oil. The heart of our plant is the latest cry of technology in olive growing - a new centrifuge, or decanter from the latest Scorpion series - which makes us one of the latest technological generations of oil mills in Istria and Croatia. In the Scorpion decanter, the processing is carried out in two phases, without the addition of water. After each processing, the system is digitized so that the devices and separators are automatically washed so that each new batch of olives comes in thoroughly cleaned processing devices. This is extremely important for olive growers engaged in organic production, and they need to know with certainty that their olives do not mix with others.

The oil mill also has a new digital control to work their oil with the most modern separator or filter. This season we are entering with a significant increase in capacity of as much as 40 percent, so our plant can process about 4 thousand kilograms of olives in just one hour, which will ultimately contribute to increasing the total annual processing from our olive groves in Barbariga and Fazana, which so far amounted to about 1,200 tons per year,"  they added.

Also, increasing the capacity enables the processing of a larger quantity of olives in a shorter period to process as many olives as possible in the top season. But the most important thing is that the quality of the oil is even better.

"We also accelerated the acceptance of olives to enable our olive growers to get oil in the shortest possible time. The novelty is that we will distribute olive storage boxes to all olive growers at the very entrance to speed up processing even more and avoid waiting. The daily harvest of olives must go to the processing as soon as possible. The new investment will undoubtedly be suitable for all our customers who gravitate to the oil mill.

The oil mill is equipped with modern mixers with all the equipment for measuring temperature, mixing time, and lighting and a novelty is the so-called "deferrer" that removes leaves from olive fruits. As a result, the olives come into operation already practically cleaned, which makes the quality of the oil much better. The entire oil mill is digitized and has centralized control with on-screen control. So, everything that happens in the plant itself is displayed on the monitor, and our employees have control and display at all times which machines and how they perform processing. Of course, no computer can replace a human, so our employees decide when is the right time to put it in the centrifuge, for which they are professionally trained. The plant's central location is the olive grinding mill, which has been improved for organic production, and the novelty is the possibility of rinsing the inside of the mill and cooling. 

In addition to new technology and the most modern decanter, the novelty is the control of the process at each stage of processing, which is especially important in producing extra virgin olive oil where the temperature is one of the most important criteria. Using new machines, the Vodnjan Oil Mill now has the possibility of cooling in the mill and temperature control of each individual mixer and access to each individual client and batch of olives.

"The reasons for this investment were primarily to increase the capacity and adjust the production process in the direction we chose. This direction is based on thinking that our oil mill will be a plant where we produce our olive oil and create our recognizable brands. A significant investment is also a completely new oil storage warehouse. All tanks are extra polished to maintain maximum oil purity, and each barrel is protected by inert nitrogen gas to keep the oil in the barrels in the best possible way.

We take care of the environment and take care of all environmental processes within the plant. We have installed a new wastewater treatment system, which means our production process achieves the highest environmental standards. The Vodnjan oil mill is more than olive growing because, over time, it has positioned itself as a central place where olives are brought for processing by olive growers from all over southern Istria, they have trusted us for years, and we try to justify it. Harvest time is a special event for the entire Vodnjan region. As leaders and pioneers in the development of olive growing, we are proud of the new, but the oldest oil mill, which these days began processing in the old town of Vodnjan," the concluded. 

The oil mill building was built in 1885, and the processing was done by hand, in the traditional way practiced by the ancient Greeks. In 1911, the first adaptation of the oil mill took place, and then, for the first time, hydraulic machines for olive processing were introduced. In the 1930s, the oil mill went into its first expansion in Italy and was equipped with the then-latest processing machines. Since 1976, new technologies have been introduced, and cooperation has been started with the world's leading machine manufacturer - the Italian company Pieralisi - with which Vodnjan has been cooperating to this day. In the early '90s, the oil mill switched to the cold pressing process. In the last twenty years, the oil mill has been equipped with the latest technology several times, thus continuously following the latest trends in modern technology in olive growing.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

 

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Croatian Olive Growers Win Medals in New York, 2000 Kuna Customs Fee Awaits

July the 1st, 2021 - Croatian olive growers and their produce are praised worldwide and are no stranger to a medal or ten. After recently winning yet more recognition and awards in New York, now around 2000 kuna in customs fees need to be paid in order for them to enter Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian olive growers have been wildly successful with their produce, and nobody in Croatia really seems to care all that much about the level of promotion this provides the country that relies so heavily on foreign visitors. A little over one month ago, on the world's largest stage, NYIOOC 2021 in New York, Croatian olive growers "picked up" medals by winning 4th place, just behind the likes of Spain, Italy and Greece.

Nobody can stop writing about them - how could they not when a small country like Croatia participating in the world's production of olive oil with only 0.3 percent, takes the top place in terms of oil quality, reports agroklub.

"It happened because Dalmatians joined the Istrian olive growers in this great competition. The Istrians have confirmed their reputation, and the Dalmatians have proven that they have quality to offer as well,'' commented Dr. Ivica Vlatkovic, who once again won gold medals. Croatian olive growers won 66 gold and 20 silver medals in total.

The typically Croatian and utterly absurd customs clearance charges...

Aware of the fact that by participating in a kind of world championship and receiving the highest awards, they have contributed to Croatia entering the very top of the world in the quality of olive oils, they expect (greater) understanding from the state authorities. Unfortunately, the state authorities in Croatia aren't well known for their understanding, or much else in that regard.

Because, as Zlatko Buric said, the man who united the Solta olive growers and together with them managed to protect the Golden Solta oil at the European Union level, unfortunately there isn't much that can make Croatia an economically successful country. ''We've once again proved that we are at the bottom in terms of organisation,'' reported the aforementioned portal.

"Instead of the Prime Minister or the President contacting us and publicly praising us, giving us some sort of reward for our great success, they want to be parasitic by collecting customs duties on trophies which have been properly obtained and are well-deserved," said Buric and other Croatian olive oil producers and growers.

For each statuette and medal, if something doesn't change in the meantime, almost 2,000 kuna will need to be paid. Olive growers are afraid that they will have to pay VAT, so now they are trying everything in order to be able to prove the meaninglessness and even the illegality of this levy individually with some sort of joint action. Some have already contacted Minister Marija Vuckovic, who "called customs and promised that everything would be settled'', but we're yet to see if that occurs.

For more, follow our dedicated Made in Croatia section.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

House of Istrian Olive Oil Has Been Reopened in Pula With New Address

July 1, 2021 - The House of Istrian Olive Oil now has a new address in Pula and its doors are once again open to all lovers of not only olive oil but, in particular, Istrian oil, which is considered one of the best in the world.

After a challenging year, the House of Istrian Olive Oil moved and continued to work in a new space in Istarska 30, only fifty meters from the Pula amphitheater, reports HrTurizam.hr. All fans of the history of olive growing and top Istrian olive oils, both domestic and foreign guests, will be able to continue to enjoy a unique cultural and tourist product.

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As the initiator of the project and the owner of the House of Istrian Olive Oil Lorena Boljunčić explained, the concept of the House of Oil remains the same, but the new space gives it greater opportunities and new dynamics.

“The museum part has been expanded to include a number of interesting facts from the history of Istrian olive growing from the Roman period to the present day: how the Romans produced olive oil, where it was exported, how oil refining has changed over the centuries and a number of important facts about modern olive oil production. Through educational guided tastings, visitors can learn how to recognize quality extra virgin olive oils, to which aromas and flavors you should pay attention and taste different varietal oils from various Istrian producers. The entire space covers 560 square meters," said Boljuncic.

Let us remind you, the House of Istrian Olive Oil was opened in 2017 in Pula. Through many years of work, an innovative cultural and tourist product has been created to promote a part of the Istrian culture: top Istrian oils with international awards as well as other valuable and Istrian products. Wanting to be a responsible member of the local community, the Oil House has participated in many events in the Istrian County, and more than 25,000 foreign guests from all continents and over 50 countries have passed through the museum and education/tasting.

The House of Istrian Olive Oil has entered the renowned tourist guides and has won awards and recognitions. Thus, in 2017, it received the Golden Goat Award of the Istria County Tourist Board, and a year later the Council of Europe received the House of Oil in the European organization of Cultural Routes with an emphasis on the route "Olive Routes".

Also in 2019, the House received the international BIG SEE award for interior design for public use and was nominated for the best Slavic museum Živa award.

For more information about the museum and guiding packages prices, be sure to check their website.

When it comes to olive oil, Croatia is one of the leading countries in the industry. From Istria to Dalmatia, you can find all the information you need to know about the origins, processes, and where to buy Croatian olive oil on the Total Croatia page, now in your language!

Friday, 28 May 2021

Hvar Olive Oil Makes Triumphant Return From New York Competition

May 28, 2021 - Olive oil is a must on Croatian tables, but its impact and quality transcend borders. A great example is Hvar olive oil, which has made a triumphant return from an international competition in New York.

Turistickeprice.hr reports that Hvar olive oil again achieved great success at the prestigious New York International Olive Oil Competition. It is a continuation of the successful tradition of Hvar olive growers on the international scene.

Despite its impeccable natural beauty and rich history, the island of Hvar is often visited by tourists and recognized as one of the top destinations for summer vacations. However, a real small gastronomic scene takes place on the island of Hvar, and the most commonly used ingredient is certainly Hvar olive oil.

There are more than 200,000 olive trees on Hvar, and the latest awards from the world competition are an indicator of quality. Last year, Hvar olive growers from New York returned with three medals, and this year they were even more successful.

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Christmas oil - Oil mill Božić-Svirče

Namely, out of 87 awarded samples from Croatia, as many as seven come from the island of Hvar, from five olive oil producers. Two gold medals went to the trade Zvir for olive oils Radojković Levantinka and Radojković Forms. One gold, for Oblica oil and a silver medal for the Christmas Selection, was awarded to Uljara Božić - Svirče d.o.o. Gold medals were also received by: OPG Čurin for oil Eva Marija, then OPG Magdalena Plenković for oil Atena, and OPG Makjanić Moškatelo for their MMuje.

Last year on the island of Hvar was extremely fruitful, not only with the amount of oil produced but also with very good quality, which this year was confirmed by the most prestigious competition in New York. The world competition for olive oil NYIOOC is the largest. The annual list of award winners is considered an authoritative guide to the best extra virgin olive oils of the year.

Dark green olive groves have been formed in this area since ancient times, and so far there have never been more, producing renowned oils with the highest recognition. The most common olive variety is oblica, with a representation of 85%, followed by lastovka, levatinka, and the somewhat newer varieties lećino and pandolino. More than 900 small and large producers talk about the tradition of nurturing olives for their products. It is therefore not surprising that every dish on the island of Hvar is sprinkled with this liquid gold.

When it comes to olive oil, Croatia is one of the leading countries in the industry. From Istria to Dalmatia, you can find all the information you need to know about the origins, processes, and where to buy Croatian olive oil on the Total Croatia page, now in your language!

For more news like this, follow our made in Croatia section.

Friday, 19 February 2021

People also ask Google: What is Croatia Famous For?

February 19, 2021 – What is Croatia Famous For?

People outside of the country really want to know more about Croatia. They search for answers online.

Here, we'll try to answer the popular search terms “What is Croatia famous for?” and “What is Croatia known for?”

Most of the people looking for answers to these questions have never been to Croatia. They may have been prompted to ask because they're planning to visit Croatia, they want to come to Croatia, or because they heard about Croatia on the news or from a friend.

What Croatia is known for depends on your perspective. People who live in the country sometimes have a very different view of what Croatia is famous for than the rest of the world. And, after visiting Croatia, people very often leave with a very different opinion of what Croatia is known for than before they came. That's because Croatia is a wonderful country, full of surprises and secrets to discover. And, it's because internet searches don't reveal everything. Luckily, you have Total Croatia News to do that for you.

What is Croatia known for?

1) Holidays


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Croatia is best known globally as a tourist destination. Catching sight of pictures of the country online is enough to make almost anyone want to come. If you've heard about it from a friend, seen the country used in a TV show like Game of Thrones or Succession, or watched a travel show, your mind will be made up. Following such prompts, it's common for Croatia to move to first place on your bucket list. If it's not already, it should be, There are lots of reasons why Croatia is best known for holidays (vacations).

a) Islands


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What is Croatia famous for? Islands © Mljet National Park

Within Croatia's tourist offer, its most famous aspect is its islands. Croatia has over a thousand islands - 1246 when you include islets. 48 Croatian islands are inhabited year-round, but many more come to life over the warmer months. Sailing in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the islands, and if you're looking for a place for sailing in the Mediterranean, Croatia is the best choice because of its wealth of islands. These days, existing images of Croatia's islands have been joined by a lot more aerial photography and, when people see these, they instantly fall in love.

b) Beaches


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What is Croatia famous for? Its holidays are famous for their beaches © Szabolcs Emich

Croatia has 5835 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea - 1,777.3 kilometres of coast on the mainland, and a further 4,058 kilometres of coast around its islands and islets. The Croatian coast is the most indented of the entire Mediterranean. This repeated advance and retreat into the Adriatic forms a landscape littered with exciting, spectacular peninsulas, quiet, hidden bays, and some of the best beaches in the world. There are so many beaches in Croatia, you can find a spot to suit everyone. On the island of Pag and in the Zadar region, you'll find beaches full of young people where the party never stops. Elsewhere, romantic and elegant seafood restaurants hug the shoreline. Beach bars can range from ultra-luxurious to basic and cheap. The beaches themselves can be popular and full of people, facilities, excitement and water sports, or they can be remote, idyllic, and near-deserted, accessible only by boat. Sand, pebble, and stone all line the perfectly crystal-clear seas which are the common feature shared by all.

c) Dubrovnik


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What is Croatia famous for? Dubrovnik © Ivan Ivanković

As a backdrop to Game Of Thrones and movies from franchises like Star Wars and James Bond, Dubrovnik is known all over the world. Everybody wants to see it in person, and that's why it's an essential stop-off for so many huge cruise ships in warmer months. But, Dubrovnik's fame did not begin with the invention of film and television. The city was an autonomous city-state for long periods of time in history, and Dubrovnik was known all over Europe – the famous walls which surround the city of Dubrovnik are a testament to a desire to maintain its independent standing for centuries while living in the shadow of expanding, ambitious empires.

d) Heritage


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What is Croatia famous for? Heritage. Pula amphitheatre is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world

The walled city of Dubrovnik is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Croatia's rich architectural and ancient heritage. Diocletian's Palace in Split is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still the living, breathing centre of life in the city (that people still live within it and it is not preserved in aspic is one of its most charming features and no small reason for its excellent preservation).

Having existed on the line of European defence against the Ottoman empire, Croatia also has many incredible fortresses and castles. The fortresses of Sibenik are well worth seeing if you're visiting Sibenik-Knin County and its excellent coast. A small number of Croatia's best castles exist on the coast, Rijeka's Trsat and Nova Kraljevica Castle is nearby Bakar being two of them. Most of Croatia's best and prettiest castles are actually located in its continental regions which, compared to the coast, remain largely undiscovered by most international tourists.

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Many spectacular castles in the country's continental regions are, for these parts, what is Croatia famous for

Pula amphitheatre (sometimes referred to as Pula Arena) is one of the largest and best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. A spectacular sight year-round, like Diocletian's Palace, it remains a living part of the city's life, famously hosting an international film festival, concerts by orchestras, opera stars, and famous rock and pop musicians. Over recent years, it has also played a part in the city's music festivals.

e) Music Festivals


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What is Croatia famous for? Music festivals © Khris Cowley

There is a very good reason why the city of Pula leapt massively up the list of most-researched online Croatian destinations over the last decade. It played host to two of the country's most famous international music festivals. Though the music at some of these can be quite niche, the global attention they have brought to the country is simply massive. Clever modern branding and marketing by the experienced international operators who host their festivals in Croatia mean that millions of young people all over the world have seen videos, photos and reviews of Croatia music festivals, each of them set within a spectacular backdrop of seaside Croatia.

f) Plitvice Lakes and natural heritage


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What is Croatia Famous For? Plitvice Lakes, national parks and natural heritage

Known for its chain of 16 terraced lakes and gushing waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes is the oldest, biggest and most famous National Park in Croatia. Everybody wants to see it. And many do. But that's not the be-all and end-all of Croatia's stunning natural beauty. Within the country's diverse topography, you'll find 7 further National Parks and 12 Nature Parks which can be mountain terrain, an archipelago of islands, or vibrant wetlands.

2) Football


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What is Croatia famous for? Football. Seen here, Luka Modric at the 2018 World Cup © Светлана Бекетова

The glittering international careers of Croatian footballers Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić, Mario Mandžukić, and others have in recent years advertised Croatia as a factory of top-flight footballing talent. They helped put Croatia football on the map with fans of European football. Football fans in Croatia have a very different perception of just how famous Croatian football is to everyone else in the world. If you talk to a Croatian fan about football, it's almost guaranteed that they will remind you of a time (perhaps before either of you were born) when their local or national team beat your local or national team in football. 99% of people will have no idea what they are talking about. The past occasions which prompt this parochial pride pale into insignificance against the Croatian National Football Team's achievement in reaching the World Cup Final of 2018. This monumental occasion brought the eyes of the world on Croatia, extending way beyond the vision of regular football fans. Subsequently, the internet exploded with people asking “Where is Croatia?”

Sports in general are what is Croatia known for

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Croatians are enthusiastic about sports and engage in a wide number of them. The difference in perception between how Croats view the fame this gets them and the reality within the rest of the world is simply huge. Rowing, basketball, wrestling, mixed martial arts, tennis, handball, boxing, waterpolo, ice hockey, skiing and volleyball are just some of the sports in which Croatia has enthusiastically supported individuals and local and national teams. Some of these are regarded as minority sports even in other countries that also pursue them. Croatians don't understand this part. If you say to a Croatian “What is handball? I never heard of that,” they will look at you like you are crazy or of below-average intelligence.

3) Zagreb


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What is Croatia famous for? Its capital city Zagreb is becoming increasingly better known

Over relatively recent years, the Croatian capital has skyrocketed in terms of fame and visitor numbers. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world now come to visit Zagreb each year. Its massive new success can be partly attributed to the rising popularity of international tourism in some areas of Asia (and Zagreb being used as a setting for some television programmes made in some Asian countries) and the massive success of Zagreb's Advent which, after consecutively attaining the title of Best European Christmas Market three times in a row, has become famous throughout the continent and further still. Zagreb's fame is not however restricted to tourism. Zagreb is known for its incredible Austro-Hungarian architecture, its Upper Town (Gornji Grad) and the buildings there, an array of museums and city centre parks and as home to world-famous education and scientific institutions, like to Ruder Boskovic Institute and the Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb.

4) Olive oil


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What is Croatia famous for? Olive oil

Croatian olive oil is the best in the world. Don't just take out word for it! Even the experts say so. In 2020, leading guide Flos Olei voted Istria in northwest Croatia as the world's best olive oil growing region for a sixth consecutive year. Olive oil production is an ancient endeavour in Croatia, and over hundreds of years, the trees have matured, and the growers learned everything there is to know. Olive oil is made throughout a much wider area of Croatia than just Istria, and local differences in climate, variety, and soil all impact the flavour of the oils produced. Croatian has no less than five different olive oils protected at a European level under the designation of their place of origin. These and many other Croatian olive oils are distinct and are among the best you're ever likely to try.

5) There was a war here


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What is Croatia famous for? A relatively recent war left its mark on the country © Modzzak

Under rights granted to the republics of the former Yugoslavia and with a strong mandate from the Croatian people, gained across two national referendums, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic country, with each republic containing a mixture of different ethnicities and indeed many families which themselves were the product of mixed ethnicities. Ethnic tensions and the rise of strong nationalist political voices in each of the former republics and within certain regions of these countries lead to a situation where war became inevitable. The worst of the fighting was suffered within Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina and the part of southern Serbia which is now Kosovo. The Croatian War of Independence (known locally as the Homeland War) lasted from 1991 – 1995. The Yugoslav wars of which it was a major part is regarded as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. In many cases, this war pitted neighbouring houses or neighbouring villages against each other and sometimes members of the same family could be found on opposing sides. The war left huge damage on the country and its infrastructure, some of which is still visible. Worse still, it had a much greater physical and psychological impact on the population. Some people in Croatia today would rather not talk about the war and would prefer to instead talk about the country's present and future. For other people in Croatia, the war remains something of an obsession. If you are curious about the Croatian War of Independence, it is not advisable to bring it up in conversation when you visit the country unless you know the person you are speaking with extremely well. It is a sensitive subject for many and can unnecessarily provoke strong emotions and painful memories. There are many resources online where you can instead read all about the war, there are good documentary series about it on Youtube and there are several museums in Croatia where you can go and learn more, in Vukovar, Karlovac and in Zagreb.

6) Wine


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What is Croatia famous for? Its wine is some of the best you'll ever try © Plenković

Croatia is not really that famous for wine. Well, not as famous as it should be because Croatia makes some of the greatest wine on the planet. Croatian wine is only really famous to those who have tried it after visiting – you'll never forget it! A growing cabal of Croatian wine enthusiasts are trying their best internationally to spread the word about Croatian wine. However, there isn't really that much space in Croatia to make all the wine it needs to supply its homegrown demands and a greatly increased export market. Therefore, export prices of Croatian wine are quite high and even when it does reach foreign shores, these prices ensure its appreciation only by a select few. There's a popular saying locally that goes something like this “We have enough for ourselves and our guests”. Nevertheless, Croatian wine is frequently awarded at the most prestigious international competitions and expos. White wine, red wine, sparkling wine, cuvee (mixed) and rose wine are all made here and Croatia truly excels at making each. You can find different kinds of grape grown and wine produced in the different regions of Croatia. The best way to learn about Croatian wine is to ask someone who really knows about wine or simply come to Croatia to try it. Or, perhaps better still, don't do that and then there will be more for those of us who live here. Cheers!

7) Croatian produce


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Drniš prsut
is protected at a European level, one of 32 products currently protected in this way and therefore what is Croatia famous for © Tourist Board of Drniš

To date, 32 agricultural and food products from Croatia have attained protection at a European level. These range from different prosciuttos, olive oils and Dalmatian bacon, to pastries and pastas, honey, cheese, turkeys, lamb, cabbages, mandarins, salt, sausages, potatoes and something called Meso 'z tiblice (which took a friend from the region where it's made three days to fully research so he could explain it to me at the levels necessary to write an informed article about it – so, you can research that one online). While some prosciutto, bacon, sausages, olive oil and wine do make it out of Croatia, much of these are snaffled up by a discerning few of those-in-the-know. The rest, you will only really be able to try if you visit. And, there are many other items of Croatian produce which are known which you can also try while here

Truffles


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What is Croatia known for? Truffles © Donatella Paukovic

By weight, one of the most expensive delicacies in the world, truffles are a famous part of the cuisine within some regions of Croatia. They feature heavily in the menu of Istria, which is well known as a region in which both white and black truffles are found and then added to food, oils or other products. Truth be told, this isn't a black and white issue - there are a great number of different types of truffle and they can be found over many different regions in Croatia, including around Zagreb and in Zagreb County. But, you'll need to see a man about a dog if you want to find them yourself.

Vegeta


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What is Croatia known for? Vegeta

Having celebrated its 60th birthday in 2019, the cooking condiment Vegeta is exported and known in many other countries, particularly Croatia's close neighbours. It is popularly put into soups and stews to give them more flavour. Among its ingredients are small pieces of dehydrated vegetables like carrot, parsnip, onion, celery, plus spices, salt and herbs like parsley.

Chocolate


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What is Croatia known for? Chocolate is a big export© Alexander Stein

Though making chocolate is only around a century old in Croatia, Croatian chocolate has grown to become one of its leading manufactured food exports. Some of the most popular bars may be a little heavy on sugar and low on cocoa for more discerning tastes. But, lots of others really like it.

Beer


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What is Croatia famous for? Its beer is becoming more famous internationally © The Garden Brewery

The exploding growth of the Croatian craft ale scene over the last 10 years is something that is likely to have passed you by, unless you're a regular visitor to the country, a beer buff or both. Most of the producers are quite small and production not great enough to make a big splash on international markets. However, even within a craft-flooded current market, Croatian beer is becoming more widely known – in one poll, the Zagreb-based Garden Brewery was in 2020 voted Europe's Best Brewery for the second consecutive year

8) Innovation


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What is Croatia famous for? Pioneers, inventors and innovation. Nikola Tesla was born here

From the parachute, fingerprinting, the retractable pen and the tungsten filament electric light-bulb to the torpedo, modern seismology, the World Health Oganisation and the cravat (a necktie, and the precursor to the tie worn by many today), Croatia has gifted many innovations to the world. The list of pioneers - scientists, artists, researchers and inventors - who were born here throughout history is long. And, although innovation is not currently regarded as experiencing a golden period in Croatia, there are still some Croatian innovators whose impact is felt globally, such as electric hypercar maker Mate Rimac.

9) Being poor


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What is Croatia famous for? Being poor. Yikes!

The minimum wage in Croatia is among the lowest in Europe. Croatian language media is constantly filled with stories about corruption. There is a huge state apparatus in which key (if not most) positions are regarded to be politically or personally-motivated appointments. This leads to a lack of opportunity for Croatia's highly educated young people. Many emigrate for better pay and better opportunities. This leads to a brain drain and affects the country's demographics considerably (if it usually the best educated, the ablest and the youngest Croatian adults who emigrate). Many of those who stay are influenced by the stories of widespread corruption and lack of opportunity and are therefore lethargic in their work, leading to a lack of productivity. A considerable part of the Croatian economy is based on tourism which remains largely seasonal.

10) People want to live in Croatia


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What is Croatia famous for? People want to come and live here. No, really.

Yes, despite many younger Croatians leaving or dreaming of leaving and despite the low wages, many people who are not from Croatia dream about living here. Of course, it's an all too familiar scenario that you go on holiday somewhere and while sitting at a seafood restaurant in sight of a glorious sunset, having had a few too many glasses of the local wine, you fall in love with Miguel or however the waiter is called who served it and Miguel's homeland. But, with Croatia, this is actually no passing fancy, no idle holiday dream. People do decide to move here. And not just for the sunset and Miguel (nobody in Croatia is called Miguel - Ed).

Croatia may be known for being poor, but it also has one of the best lifestyles in Europe. That it's cafe terraces are usually full to capacity tells you something about the work to living ratio. Croatians are not just spectators of sport, many enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This informs everything from their pastimes to their diet. There are great facilities for exercise and sport, wonderful nature close by whichever part of the country you're in. You can escape into somewhere wonderful and unknown at a moment's notice. The country is well connected internally by brilliant roads and motorways, reliable intercity buses and an international train network. The tourism industry ensures that multiple airports across Croatia can connect you to almost anywhere you want to go, and major international airports in Belgrade and Budapest, just a couple of hours away, fly to some extremely exotic locations. There are a wealth of fascinating neighbour countries on your doorstep to explore on a day trip or weekend and superfast broadband is being rolled out over the entire country. This is perhaps one of the reasons Croatia has been heralded as one of the world's best options for Digital Nomads. In a few years, when we ask what is Croatia famous far, they could be one of the answers.

What is Croatia famous for, but only after you've visited

Some things you experience when you visit Croatia come as a complete surprise. Most would simply never be aware of them until they visit. They are usually top of the list of things you want to do when you come back to Croatia.

Gastronomy


fritaja_sparoge_1-maja-danica-pecanic_1600x900ntbbbbb.jpgGastronomy is only one of the things what is Croatia known for only after you've visited © Maja Danica Pecanic / Croatian National Tourist Board

Despite a few famous TV chefs having visited and filmed in Croatia over the years, Croatian gastronomy remains largely unknown to almost everyone who's never been to Croatia. That's a shame because you can find some fine food here. Croatia has increased its Michelin-starred and Michelin-recommended restaurants tenfold over recent years. But, perhaps the bigger story is the traditional cuisine which varies greatly within the countries different regions. From the gut-busting barbecue grills and the classic Mediterranean fare of Dalmatia to the pasta, asparagus and truffles of Istria to the sausages and paprika-rich stews of Slavonia and the best smoked and preserved meats of the region, there's an untold amount of secret Croatian gastronomy to discover.

Coffee


restaurant-3815076_1280.jpgWhat is Croatia known for? Well, to locals, it's famous for coffee - not just a drink, it's a ritual

Croatians are passionate about coffee and about going for coffee. It's a beloved ritual here. Going for coffee in Croatia is often about much more than having coffee. It's an integral part of socialising, catching up and sometimes being seen. It doesn't always involve coffee either. Sometimes, you'll be invited for coffee, only to end up ordering beer. It's not about the coffee. Although, the standard of coffee in Croatia, and the places where you drink it, is usually really good.

The misapprehension: What is Croatia known for (if you are a Croatian living in Croatia)

Handball, music

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Friday, 9 October 2020

Flos Olei 2021: Istria is the World's Best Olive Oil Region for 6th Consecutive Year!

October 9, 2020 - For the sixth year in a row, Istria is the world's best olive oil region, according to the results of Flos Olei 2021.

HRTurizam reports that in the popular publication Flos Olei, the so-called 'extra virgin olive oil bible,' as many as 71 olive growers from Istria produced such high-quality extra virgin olive oil that it deserved a prestigious award - inclusion in the new, twelfth edition of Flos Olei!

Namely, in the new edition, 73 oils from Croatia are included, of which 71 are from Istria and two from Dalmatia. Simultaneously, several Istrian olive growers achieved better results compared to last year, which is proof of significant work in raising the quality and application of the latest scientific and technological achievements in olive growing.

In 2021, Istria will once again be adorned with the title of the world's best olive oil region, in a winning streak that has lasted six years. This is especially important considering that the publication contains oils from all over the world, or from 54 olive-growing countries, and Istrian olive growers are in the company of the 500 best with a total share of 14 percent.

"It sounds unreal, and I would say pretentious, but for the sixth year in a row, Istria has been declared the best olive region in the world. Since its first edition in 2010, Istria has immediately taken an important role and positioned itself as the second-best olive growing region, just behind Tuscany. However, every year the advantage of Tuscany was smaller. At the end of 2016, it took the leading position that it has maintained to this day, but with a far greater difference than Tuscany previously had in relation to Istria. The fact that Istria has 71 olive growers and Tuscany 43 speaks volumes about what it looks like this year. An even more important fact is that over 1,000 samples from all over the world arrive for evaluation. After that, a selection of the 500 best in the world is made, and that within the 500 best Istria has 71, which is really impressive," proudly points out Denis Ivosevic, director of the Istria County Tourist Board.

It is essential to be aware of the fact that in no discipline, in any industry, sport, or any other important competition in places where reputation is gained and confirmed, does Croatia have as much success as Istrian extra virgin olive oil for six years in a row, Ivosevic emphasizes and adds:

"We are very proud of that fact, but it seems that a lot of work is still needed in our country, and also abroad, so that this primacy gets its full and true value; that we become aware of it first in Croatia and that then all those who promote Croatian gastronomy proudly point it out. In the expectation that next year we will reach at least one grade of 99, I believe that the time has come and that six years of confirmation is enough proof to realize that we are the best in the world in something."

This worldwide success certainly contributes to the branding of Istria and Croatia as a gastronomic destination, given that extra virgin olive oil is the main addition to dishes and the basic food product of Mediterranean cuisine, and due to its organoleptic and medicinal properties, it is appreciated almost everywhere in the world.

Significant investments in olive oil production took place in Istria in this extraordinary year.

The Chiavalon family (Vodnjan) opened a new olive center/modern building that includes a new Mori olive press, with a new cellar, tasting room, sales point, and warehouse, while the Ipša family (Ipši, Oprtalj) also opened a new olive center/refurbished and revalued a traditional building, with a new Mori, cellar, tasting room, point of sale, Istrian tavern and warehouse.

The Vanđelić (Bale) family also opened a new olive center/renovated and revalued a traditional building with a new Mori, cellar, tasting room, and sales outlet, combined with fruit vegetable production.

The Galić family (Kostanjica, Grožnjan) opened a new cellar, tasting room, and sales point, while the Oleum Maris company did the same, and the Beletić family (Novigrad) introduced the PIERALISI.

The guide will soon see the light of day. On 884 pages, it will be published in two language variants (Italian-English and Italian-Chinese) and will present selected countries from five continents and 86 world maps of olive groves. The list of all Croatian award-winning olive growers can be found HERE.

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Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Šolta Olive Oil Named One of Best in World at New York Competition!

Šolta olive oil has received an impressive new recognition from our friends in the Big Apple. Namely, at the New York International Olive Oil Competition, the Association of Olive Oil "Zlatna Šoltanka" won the "The Best in Class" award as the best oil in the class of environmentally friendly monosortic oil of medium intensity in the world, reports Dalmacija Danas on May 15, 2019. 

Better yet, the "Best in Class" title was received by only 18 olive oils, out of which there were 913 from 26 countries.

“Thus, Šolta olive oil is only and the first from Croatia and Dalmatia, for which we are endlessly proud,” said the president of the Association “Zlatna Šoltanka”, Zlatko Burić.

“It is a great success for Dalmatia, for Šolta, and the “Zlatna Šoltanka" Association - we do not even have to speak - on behalf of our islanders, this is excellent news for all olive growers, farmers and lovers of olive oil,” said Šolta mayor Nikola Cecić-Karuzić.

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Recall, this Šolta olive oil also received the protection of origin at the European Union level back in 2016. 

Croatia participated at the contest in New York with 61 olive oils, of which 51 received the gold or silver prize. Croatia has thus once again ranked at the top with the world’s olive oil giants - Spain and Italy.

The NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition is the largest and most prestigious olive oil quality contest. Its annual list of award winners is the authoritative guide to the world’s best olive oils and the dedicated producers who craft them, reads the NYIOOC website

The awards ceremony was held on May 10, 2019, where the best olive oils of 2019 were unveiled at a press conference streamed live from New York. The results of the competition were followed by producers, importers, distributors chefs, food service professionals and journalists around the world, the website continued. 

Zlatna Šoltanka’s distributor Sascha Menesi was the one to break the news to the Šolta association that they not only won the gold medal at the biggest olive oil competition in the world but have been recognized as the best olive oil in the category of medium-intensity ecological monosortic oil. 

“This is for all the hard-working people in Solta!” said Mirjana Kanzler, who represented the "Best in Class" Award winner.

Thus, all islanders and future olive growers can use this premium award as an incentive to engage in the protection of originality and ecological production.

Zlatna Šoltanka is an association made up of 20 olive oil producers from the island of Šolta. They pride themselves on paying particular attention to "superior quality products, environmental protection and development of the local population".

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Saturday, 15 December 2018

Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Knowing the Difference

December 15, 2018 — Over the past decades, it's been estimated that close to 90% of all olive oils we find on the shelves of our favorite supermarkets are not even close to the essence of health that olive oil is considered to be. So how are we supposed to know the difference?

For millennia, people have been growing, picking and processing olives into what's forever been praised as pure, liquid green gold — the extra virgin olive oil. Unfortunately, for almost as many thousands of years, from ancient times to the present, people have also been adulterating this precious oil, blending it with different lower-grade, less nutritious, poor quality oils. Given today's sophisticated technology, adding color and flavor to these chemically enhanced blended oils, and selling them labeled as "extra virgin" becomes even easier.

Basically, extra virgin olive oil is fresh-pressed olive juice made without heat or chemicals. Good EVOO must have three parameters; it has to be fruity, spicy, and bitter.

To really understand it and be able to tell the difference between genuine EVOO and other olive oils of lesser quality, a conscious consumer must learn how to read the labels.

Olive oil is graded by its level of acidity which is an indicator of decomposition; meaning, the amount of free oleic acid indicates the extent to which fat has broken down into fatty acids. Only unrefined olive oils of the highest quality and an acidity level of no more than 0.8% will be labeled as "extra virgin," the highest grade possible.

The "virgin" label means we are looking at an olive oil of lesser quality, with a free acidity of up to 1.5% and even though they still taste good, often these oils will have noticeable flavor defects, even if only slightly present.

Lastly, olive oil that comes from bad fruits or careless processing is called "lampante," the inedible oil of the worst quality. Apart from its high acidity levels and an unpleasant flavor, without further refining, this oil is not fit for any kind of consumption. In fact, the name lampante comes from its traditional use in oil-fueled lamps.

Having a quite strong, pungent taste and aroma, real EVOO is not always smooth on the palate. However, the pronounced bitterness and a burning, peppery sensation it creates in the mouth are actually both signs of quality, indicating high levels of polyphenols which carry the numerous health benefits associated with the olive oil. Generally, EVOO's flavor will basically depend on the terroir and olive variety, but also the time of harvest.

Another important thing to pay attention to is the best-before date. As a rule of thumb, an unopened olive oil should be good for about two years from the time it was bottled. However, the date of harvest is actually a much better indicator of freshness, as it tells you exactly when the olives have been milled and the oil pressed.

Even though EVOO is a supremely healthy food, it is known to be highly perishable. Since light, heat, and air drastically affect its stability, we need to make sure it is properly stored — at room temperature and away from the sunlight. Also, once we open a sealed bottle of olive oil, it is recommended to use it within no more than six months.

If not used in time, even the finest oil will eventually go rancid. So once we've mastered the labels, it's time to rely on our senses. Rancidness is basically fat gone bad, and it has an unpleasant smell of staleness, often described as the smell of old nuts or even crayons, and if you're not sure about the smell, tasting rancid oil will leave you with a repugnant, greasy mouthfeel.

The three other most common olive oil defects are fustiness, caused by the non-oxygen fermentation of olives before they are milled; the strong winey smell of oxygen-fermented olives, reminiscent of vinegar; and the mustiness caused by moldy olives.

In conclusion, if olive oil doesn't exude a delightful aroma of fresh green or ripe olives, and doesn't taste fruity and spicy with a pronounced note of bitterness, chances are you've got a case of a good oil gone bad.

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Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Istria Named Best Olive Oil Region in World for Fourth Consecutive Year!

After Istria was represented by 75 olive oils in 2018, this year, the region became the best for olive oil once again. 

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