For this I Do Care Interview, I had the pleasure of speaking with my longtime friend Mireia Rovira. Mireia and I have been friends since childhood, she and my brother actually studied together! I was in Spain visiting family and friends this past June and Mireia and I had a chance to sit down and discuss something you know I love, olive oil!
Mireia began her career working in international business. After years of dominating in her field, things changed for Mireia. Her husbands family business, The Olis Bargallo’s Company, became a passion of hers and she found herself making the switch from international business to beautiful world of producing olive oils.
On a beautiful night in Spain, Mireia took time to answer my questions and I have all of it here for you! Enjoy!
1. Olive oil is not only delicious and versatile in uses, but it is also great for you! Can you tell us a little bit about the process of making olive oil?
Olive oil is the natural juice of olives. To produce it, you pick olives from an olive tree when they have reached the perfect level of ripeness and you take it to a mill the very same day. At the mill the olives will be crushed, and then the solids (skin and pits) will be separated from the liquids (oils and water), we do this separation with a double centrifuge process. Finally, when you obtain the juices, you taste and analyze to determine the category and quality.
2. Now a bit about you! How did you get into the olive oil making business?
My husband actually started this company before we met, and after we got married, we realized my talents could be used in the company and we began working together!
3. I’m sure you know olive oil is used for cooking, skin moisturizing, hair treatments and more! What is your favorite use for olive oil?
Of course! For me, the cooking is the primary use, but it’s great for your skin, you can add some to your liquid soaps for extra moisture, hair conditioner as well! I’ve even heard of people using it on their hands, feet and lips before bed to ensure moisture and soft skin.
4. Olive Oil is used primarily in Mediterranean cuisine. In what different cuisines have your tried olive oil if any?
Nowadays more chefs from regions all over recognize the benefits of olive oil and enjoy the flavors so I’ve had food from Japan, China, and many Latin and Caribbean countries that use olive oil!
5. What is the difference between Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil, and Light Olive Oil? Is one better for you than the other?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the best quality. There must be a fresh aroma, balanced flavor, and never any defects. The other categories are much less restrictive in all manners. Light Olive Oil doesn’t exist, so if you see that in a store, it isn’t real! More than likely it is just regular Olive Oil that isn’t as pure or fresh. There is 0.4 º Olive Oil, but it is usually only used for cooking.
6. Spain is the top producer of Olive Oil with 50% of the total supply worldwide, but Italy also produces 15% coming in second. What difference do you notice between the two olive oils?
Every country has different olive varieties and each one will produce Olive Oil with a different flavor and aroma. As for which is best. That depends on which you like more!!
7. You work with a family owned organization, that has been around for hundreds of years! Has keeping things within the family helped maintain the success of the brand and the integrity of the product?
The Olis Bargallo’s Company was founded in 1850 in a small town near Barcelona, Castellví de Rosanes. Olive Oil is our passion, and we pride ourselves on our product and work to continue to produce the best olive oil possible! Tradition is key for us. We are a family owned and run business and we make sure to keep the same quality of products and ensure our business style stays the same.
8. What advice do you have for people trying olive oil for the first time?
You should start with tasting Mild and Sweet EVOO which are easier to use in recipes and the flavor is easier to get used to. With time and the development of your palette, you can consume more complex flavors of EVOO. Make sure to always use EVOO unheated! It works and tastes best as a finishing oil, not a cooking.