The Best Extra Virgin Olive Oils – Oro Bailen

Oro Bailen produce some of the best award-winning extra virgin olive oils with both national and international accolades under their belt. I visited the olive oil mill on the only grey, drizzly day we’d had for months but that didn’t dull the premises or enthusiasm and pride of the Oro Bailen team.

My GPS sent me around the edge olive groves, which at the time I didn’t realise belonged to Oro Bailen. The quality of their oils is precisely for that reason, they own and manage the olive trees and each stage of growth is cared for by their own team. The olives are harvested at the precise moment they choose and are taken from the olive groves to the mill and through the process to produce the incredibly rich ‘juice’ or liquid gold as it’s often referred to – gold is oro in Spanish.

Oro Bailen Olive Oill Mill, Jaen

When approaching from the front, the road from Bailen, the mill is quite imposing. Black railings with gold-coloured tips sets the standard I saw from arrival to departure and throughout the processing plant to the attractive shop where you can buy the products at source. This is slow food. Grown, produced and sold directly.

I was welcomed by Irene who speaks Spanish, English, French and German so you can choose whichever language you’d like to have your tour in. Taking about 1.5 hours it starts at the front of the factory where the tractors tip the freshly harvested olives into two large ground-level hoppers.

Olives Ripening

From the beginning of harvesting to the fruit arriving, being examined and the whole process of extracting the ‘juice’ begins is around 2 hours, minimising damage to the fruit and oxidation. The juice then rests for around 15 days before being filtered and stored ready for bottling.

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From extraction to storage to bottling to shop the mill is clean and efficient, the whole ethos of excellence permeates every part of Oro Bailen – a gold star at every turn.

Oro Bailen Olive Oil Mill Shop

The shop holds a stylish array of black, green and gold bottles, tins and jars. Not only do they produce oils in bottle form but also in capsules, little pearls of explosive delight on the palate which also give a dish a distinctive look and a burst of flavour.

Oro Bailen Olive Oil Pearl Capsules

And then there’s the extra virgin olive oil marmalades made from the Picual and Aberquina olive creating a creamy, slightly sweet yet bitter spread for cheese, pastries or on fresh crusty bread. A blend of 50% olive oil and unlike most marmalades only 25% sugar.

Oro Bailen Olive Oil Marmalade

A tasting session proves the colour of the juice or oil to be more green than gold and the aromas of fresh cut grass or very green apples, sometimes ripe bananas waft around.

Oro Bailen Olive Oil Mill Visit & Tasting

Oro Bailen Arbequina Olive Oil

My palate preferred the Arbequina oil, and visions of chewing the end of a fresh stalk of grass as a child came to mind with added hints of heat and bitterness.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil tasting Oro Bailen

I think I’m going to enjoy tasting olive oils as much as I enjoy wine tastings. Each was distinctive, each one very good indeed. Which one of the 300 plus mills should I visit next I wonder.

What did I go home with? A bottle of each.

My thanks to The Artisan Olive Oil Company who sell fabulous olive oils online and Oro Bailen for my visit.

Mallorca’s Ten Michelin Star Restaurants

Mallorca, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands, keeps its 10 Michelin Stars. The ninth annual Michelin Star Awards were held in Tenerife, one of the Canaray Islands and another fabulous ‘foodie’ destination.

Mercat l'Olivar

Mallorca has been experiencing a food revolution in the recent years with some great new restaurants  opening. The fine-dining ‘Vandal’ and the ‘You Buy We Cook’ restaurant in the Mercat de l’Olivar. It also has a new gastro market recently opened in its capital Palma and with the growing trend of  gastro markets the new Mercat 1930 is the place to go to sample many different dishes in one setting.

Mercat d'Olivar

Mallorca Michelin Star Restaurants 

The restaurants which kept their Michelin Stars are:

Simply Fosh, Mark Fosh’s restaurant is in the lively  heart of Palma in a 17th century mansion. Simply Fosh offers traditional Spanish cuisine with a modern twist and the award is for its emphasis on seasonal ingredients and ‘clean flavours’.

Another Palma based restaurant is Restaurant Adrian Quetglas, named after the creator and head chef which has retained its star for its outstanding menu offering a combination of natural products, traditional flavours, and avant-garde techniques.

Restaurant Zaranda,  a more rural setting in the luxury hotel Castell de Son Claret in the Tramuntana Mountain range and headed by Fernando P. Arellano maintained its two Michelin Stars. The award is for its impeccable fusion of flavour, aroma and texture.

Head Chef Alvaro Salazar who won San Pellegrino Young Chef’s award in 2016 and is a finalist for Best Chef of 2018 heads Restaurant Argos in Port de Pollença. Argos describes itself as ‘free cuisine’ – traditionally prepared dishes using seasonal and local product whilst tapping into creative gastronomy.

Marc Fosh Restaurant

Located within the traditional Mallorcan Finca Predi de Son Jaumell in Capdepera, now a luxury hotel is the Restaurant Andreu Genestra, named after the head chef. Genestra goes to great lengths to make the cuisine innovative yet traditional, often picking products from his own garden.

To the south of Capdepera, Es Molí d’En Bou in Sa Coma boasts a ‘unique sensory journey’ showcasing new techniques but also rooted in the island’s culinary traditions. Led by Tomey Caldentey, it is the 15th consecutive year that the restaurant has been awarded a Michelin Star.

Es Racó d’Es Teix in Deiá offers the best ingredients combined with the highest culinary art. Complemented with stunning views of the mountains alongside elegant cooking from Chef Josef Sauerschell, this is a gastro gem.

Palmanova restaurant Es Fum within the grand luxury hotel St Regis Mardavall – is often described as a ‘culinary pearl’. Head Chef Miguel Navarro, who started his culinary journey aged 16, offers delicate combinations and an ‘epicurean experience’ while gazing over the Mediterranean Sea.

Tomato, pomegranate & feta salad

The fare in Jardín in Port d’Alcudia blends flavours from the sea, fields, mountains and forests of Mallorca and tends to use ingredients “forgotten in our busy modern world”. Run by siblings Maca and Dani de Castro it has held its Michelin Star since 2012.

For more information on what to see and do in the Balearic Islands visit www.illesbalears.travel