The best place to buy olive oil is Cabaces (available from Scala Dei’s shop). But the Villella Baixa (La Plantadeta) also offers oil from its own local harvests, as does, naturally, Torroja (available from the Cooperativa or Mayol’s wine shop).
The olive harvest takes place during the winter season. Both before and during the Christmas season, the olive farmers are busily ”shaking“ the typically tiny and hearty olives off the venerable old olive trees and collecting them in pieces of cloth spread out underneath the trees. Afterwards the olives are taken to the Cooperativa, where they are immediately pressed in as fresh a condition as possible. Miguel Aixalá and his staff are very friendly and won’t mind giving visitors a glimpse of their ”machinations“ all about ”extra virgen“; even a bottle of unfiltered, freshly pressed oil can be had upon request. This treasure is best eaten straight with Spanish white bread (the best is available from the bakery Gratallops), lightly toasted and rubbed with a bit of garl
On Christmas, Miquel is telling us over a sip of oil about all the other things made from the residue left behind in the oil press (not in Torroja, of course, but by the secondary processors – God knows where), and they even have the cheek to still call that olive oil, even though it really doesn’t have much to do with it any more.
Those interested in seeing ancient olive trees need to proceed towards the Ebro Delta. Below Tortosa, in the Senia area, you will find veritable giants of circumference.
Years ago, we were lucky enough to marvel at thousand-year old olive tree on the hillside of Benifallet, and it breaks my heart to this day that I cannot find the pictures anymore! We’ll keep on looking!