The Salvagno family are one of our favourite as well as longest-serving suppliers.

When you visit the beautiful part of northern Italy in which they live, it is immediately obvious why their extra virgin olive oil, olives: both in brine or pitted in that same oil, and their excellent olive paste are so good.

They are a mere ten minutes from elegant Verona, the town where you can imagine Romeo and Juliet being played out. Along with the other cultural and vinous attractions - this is the area where Prosecco and Amarone rule and the home of the now very trendy Aperol or Campari Spritz - it is a must for young people to go to Juliet’s house and leave a stick-it love note on her wall and perhaps be photographed with her.

Salvagno is located in the countryside, and the family, Gianni, his wife Elena and daughters Christina and Francesca are very well known in the area. When we walked through Piazza Erbe in Verona with Gianni, it took some time to get to the restaurant as he was greeted by so many friends along the way.

Gianni is an innovator in the world of olives as he invented a modern version of the traditional stone wheel, feeling that his town’s olives were too delicate for modern methods of crushing.

Certainly Salvagno extra virgin olive oil is always been quite delicately almondy but also quite rich in mouth texture and smooth and balanced on the palate. It is naturally organic and the fly they spray for normally does not exist in this climate. Or perhaps the prayers of the nuns in the cloistered nunnery we drove up to on the top of the hill near the frantoio protect them...

The olive paste tastes as though it is a fully flavoured tapenade complete with anchovies and capers, but is in fact just olives and salt. Gluten-free and vegan as well as very moreish. One witty food writer once described it a ‘yuppie’ vegemite (a term anyone under 35 probably doesn’t know!).

Their pitted olives in extra virgin olive oil are just sensational. They are rich and meaty, but mild served as is or stirred through pasta, risotto and many forms of grain or vegetable salads - or gain extra texture and crunch when roasted with meat, fish or vegetables.

This brand is the ideal quality pantry staple.



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