August 10, 2018 – A unique opportunity to adopt an olive tree, and not just any olive tree. With an anti-oxidant count of 2,433ml/kg, some of the very best olive oil in the world. Made on Hvar.
One thing I have learned in Croatia is that the good guys rarely come first, especially the good guys who go about their business without looking for favours or recognition. Of course, if you happen to build the world’s fastest electric supercar, as Mate Rimac did, the international column inches follow, but the longer I live here, the more I realise how much excellence there is in this country which goes almost without being noticed, unless there is an interest or reason. I have a cynical friend here who always comments on featured newspaper articles on restaurants and hotels:
“I wonder how much they paid this time.”
Having learned A LOT about how the Croatian media works in the last week regarding events in Jelsa (of which much more soon), I don’t regard my friend as quite so cynical.
I digress. There was a lovely family afternoon in Jelsa a couple of weeks ago. A brother of my father-in-law, Barba Jure, popped in for 15 minutes to say hi and to collect about 30 litres of vinegar from his brother. As is the Dalmatian way, out came a drink, then a spot of lunch, a little reminiscing, and Barbe Jure went on his way about 8 hours later, a fabulous family catch-up and memories included in the entertainment.
And, of course, he completely forgot to take the vinegar.
But it was a story that he casually dropped into the conversation, not even as a main topic, that got he hooked. Barba Jure is one of the nicest men I know, and I genuinely regret not being more fluent in Croatian when he comes to visit. He is a font of all knowledge and passionate about his craft – olive oil – and I genuinely love listening to his stories and escapades. One of 10 brothers and sisters growing up in the village of Brusje, a very hard start to life, what he has achieved – just like my father-in-law – is nothing short of amazing.
So what was that little thing he mentioned that got me hooked? Barba Jure has a very successful olive oil business, with about 1000 trees near his native village of Brusje as part of it. He had clients in the States who wanted to buy, and so he started looking into the paperwork. There are quality control certificates and other bureaucratic procedures before export can take place. And there are only a few specialist labs in the region which can perform the tasks. The local one in Split cost about 2,000 euro apparently, which was rather a lot. After a little Internet research, he found a similar lab in Athens which would do the job for just 200 euro. Imagine Greece being ten times cheaper than Croatia for a service! Say it ain’t so… Samples were sent.
A few days later, there was a phone call from Athens, complimenting him on his quite astonishing levels of anti-oxidants in the oil samples, and inviting him to an all-expenses-paid olive oil conference in Athens, with 3,000 of the world’s best olive oils – Arisoleo 2018.
It was quite an honour, but the story was about to get even more interesting – but never made the Croatian media – for Barba Jure’s humble Hvar olive oil not only was judged to have the highest anti-oxidant content level of the 140 Croatian samples submitted, but he walked away with a double gold medal – his oil had the third highest anti-oxidant level of the 3,000 samples submitted – 2,433 mg/kg.
Barba Jure invited us to have dinner in his olive grove a couple of days later, and we were delighted to accept – after all, someone had to deliver those 30 litres of vinegar… I have written about it before – it truly is one of the most romantic dining experiences in all Dalmatia, all the more so when you realise you are surrounded by such olive oil goodness. It was sensational. Natural Hvar at its very finest.
So big congratulations to Barba Jure and the Hvar Gourmet team.
And here is the exciting bit for you readers who are salivating at the prospect of trying Barba Jure’s olive oil. Not only can you do that, but you can also adopt one of his olive trees with a Kickstarter campaign launched yesterday, which has already reached 60% of its goal in the first 24 hours.
You can read more about it here including details on how to get involved in the Kickstarter campaign. And I hope that one day, just maybe, we might read about such success in the Croatian media.