- Food & Drink
There are a lot of subscription companies about at the moment. The Guardian even did a feature on them. You can stay in and the whole world will come to you. For a price, of course.
Back in January Pomora got in touch with me and asked if I would like to try out their olive oil subscription service. It’s a simple system: you ‘adopt’ an olive tree and four times a year they send you olive oil from Italy. I get through olive oil like a mole tunnels through lawns, so I was easy to persuade.
I immediately attempted to break their system by giving Pomora an address that was very like my address, but not entirely the same. Consequently, a letterbox-sized parcel of olive oils went on a little tour of London’s delivery offices and sorting rooms. It did eventually arrive (all hail the postal service). And two weeks later the second lot of oil turned up, too. I was blessed with heart healthy vegetable fats.
Box 1 contained three 250ml tins of olio nuovo – young olive oils that are meant to have a zippy, fresh flavour. There were two tins of oil from Antonio in Campania and one from Carmelo in Catania, Sicily. The Sicilian oil is the one I liked the most: a sweet and fruity oil that doesn’t need mixing with vinegar to proudly dress a lettuce leaf. It’s my new favourite oil for making mayo, too.
The Campania oil was hot and spicy; a mix of green fruit, dry straw and olive stone bitterness. A bit full on for me, it needs to be mixed with something sweet to even it out.
Box 2 was packed with flavoured oils. There is a herbaceous rosemary oil, with a sharp edge and lingering fragrance; a sweet lemon oil that would be very good for baking; and a chilli oil that I approached with a cavalier attitude (as if an Italian chilli oil would be too hot!) and ended up reeling around the kitchen searching for dairy products to put in my mouth.
If I’d looked at the tins I would’ve seen that all three oils were made by Antonio, producer of the peppery olive oil that had already taken out my more sensitive tastebuds. Note to self: always read the label before having a big spoonful of something.
There are two more sets of oil in the year-round subscription: a collection of extra virgin olive oils and more flavoured oils, including truffle, basil and garlic. You can adopt an olive tree for 1 quarter for £39, going up to £135 for all four quarters. You also get to pick your producer (I’d go Carmelo, myself) when you order, which is a nice touch.
Inevitably, I made focaccia with my olive oils. It’s been a long time since I made it and I’d forgotten what a delight it is. So soft and pillowy. Pressing my fingers into the risen loaf was like dimpling a cloud. I used Carmelo’s mild olive oil in the dough itself and spooned Antonio’s rosemary oil over it just before eating it, still warm from the oven.
You can find out more about Pomora’s oils here. I was sent the oils as a gift.
Rosemary & Garlic Focaccia
500g strong white flour
15g dried, fast action yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
4 garlic cloves
A handful of rosemary sprigs
2 tbsp rosemary flavoured extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt flakes
Sift the flour into a bowl. Whisk in the yeast, caster sugar and salt. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and 300ml hand-hot water. Stir to make a dough.
Turn out the dough onto your work surface and knead for 10 minutes or till the dough is smooth and elastic. Don’t add more flour to the dough while you’re kneading, as this will make it dry.
Grease the bowl with a little oil and return the dough to it. Loosely cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm to rise. It should double in size in roughly 45 minutes-1 hour.
Turn the dough out. Knock it back and then roll it out to make a rectangle approximately 30cm x 25cm. Lay the dough rectangle on a baking tray. Loosely covered with oiled cling film and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Peel and finely slice the garlic. Break the rosemary into little sprigs. Gently press your fingers into the dough to make dimples. Brush the dough with 1 tbsp olive oil and press the garlic and rosemary sprigs into the dimples.
Heat your oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7. When the dough is risen, sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 20-25 minutes till risen and golden.
Leave the focaccia to cool on the side for a few minutes. Drizzle with the rosemary scented olive oil before serving. Best eaten on the day it is made.