Viver, Castellon. 15th Olive Oil and Artisan Products Fair.


Viver Olive Fair

 

I love this time of year! After a fairly quiet May because other business committments got in the way of writing blogs, June looks like being a corker of a month! What better way to start than with a visit to nearby Viver, to experience the fifteenth Olive oil and Artisan Products Fair.
I was last in the small town back in January on a visit to Bodega Ismael Sanjuan ( http://wp.me/p16pqB-Aw/ )

Then we only had time to visit the bodega, sadly this time I timed my visit badly and missed the tour of the olive oil and almond mill and Cooperative! However, these small town fairs which are traditionally held in the open air have a habit of keeping you busy well beyond the time that you think you need!

Parque de la Floresta.

Parque de la Floresta.

The setting is quite spectacular! A gorge in the centre of a small town, ( the Parque de la Floresta)  with a waterfall cascading through and over a green wall of vegetation and a fast flowing stream with lily and umbrella plants growing in the centre.

Either side the precariously built houses sit atop the rock faces and to either side of the stream below  the exhibitors put up a mixture of garden pergolas, boot-sale tents and market stalls on the flat ground.

Parque de la Floresta

Parque de la Floresta

The setting is cool, green and well….it has water in abundance! I havent seen this anywhere , never mind this close to Valencia! You could close your eyes and imagine yourself in an English country town with neat stone walls, manicured hedges and exhibition trees.

At one of the first stalls I encountered Ismael Sanjuan, president of the Castellon Province Indication of Geographical Protection for its wines. He is also President of the Olive Oil Coop. He was talking to some of the other locals who are dedicated to reviving the wine making tradition of the town which died out after phylloxera. He explained that most of the towns houses had small bodegas underneath them and the group were displaying   traditional implements such as wicker baskets for collecting the grapes and transporting them from the high terraced slopes by donkey back to the growers houses.

Lagrima Oil

Lagrima Oil

The town has a varied agricultural history… after the grapes went they were replaced by Olives and Almonds and today the Coop handles all of this….but it is the olive oil winning the prizes, the Lagrima and Vivarium brands both being excellent examples of Virgin Extra oils.

The town also has a tradition of growing other crops, wheat and corn for flour and beans, peppers, artichokes, tomatos and peppers amongst others. This is often done on a small-scale family by family basis and certainly is not extensive farming. It is helping the town with its unemployment problem though as quality produce sells well here.

Artichokes, Tightly closed and Freshly Picked!

Artichokes, Tightly closed and Freshly Picked!

Within the fair this was reflected with the first stalls selling trays of tightly packed local artichokes and cherries…the tomatos too were local except those from El Perello! As I walked up the hill into the fair a steady stream of fair goers were leaving carrying trays between them!

Artisan Cured Meats and Sausages.

Artisan Cured Meats and Sausages.

Going beyond here there were butchers with stalls groaning with cured meats and sausages! One can spend a fortune on these stalls as they sell traditional bacon, home cured and ready to be sliced (pancetta) tocino ( big chunks of fat used in Cocidos) sobrasadas, fuets, chorizos, sweet or picante,  longanizas, various styles of morcillas, some for cooking and others for slicing, blanquets and much more!!!!

Cecina and Lomo Curado.

Cecina and Lomo Curado.

 

Of course there were two bodegas present as well. Masa de la Hoya, the nearby bodega from Segorbe were showing four wines including a bone dry rosado from a blend of Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah. Probably the best wine on show was the Orero Selecion.

Masia De La Hoya Wines

Masia De La Hoya Wines

Next door there were the cheese producers of La Cartuja and next to them the artisan Real Ale brewery. La Vidigonera is the brand name for the bottle fermented Montanejos ale, 5.1% ABV and made from water, malt, hops and yeast only. The beer is fresh, golden in colour and the hops and malts are separately marked in  the mouth after a fruity nose and floral primary taste. Slightly cloudy but don’t let this put you off…it is really easy to drink and went well with the cheeses on offer!!! http://www.lavidigonera.com

Artisan Ale

Artisan Ale

Moving around the fair the next stall I called at was that of the olive oil coop which produces and sells beauty products and wooden artefacts made from olive….there is little waste in this industry!

Across the path was the honey stall selling its varieties of honey with different floral bases, orange, lavender etc as well as Royal Jelly and pollen.

Local Honey

Local Honey

Beyond the stall with sweets and spun sugar there were plants for sale and a part of the park set aside for children to participate in activities organised for them.

A second Bodega was also showing two wines, ( Vega Palancia) and the younger red wine was fruity, full and easy to drink!

It is becoming traditional now at fairs to have professional chefs giving masterclasses and this year Germán Carrizo and Carito Lourenço who are responsible for the cuisine at El Poblet and Vuelve Carolina, Quique Dacosta´s Michelin starred restaurants were playing to a packed audience in the area set aside.

Show Cooking!

Show Cooking!

This was however beautifully counterpoised by the Housewives association who prepared traditional bunuelos and hand-made crisps to order as well as Ajoaceite ( alliolli)  which was being made by pestle and mortar with a strong wrist action before being served on bread!!

And there is modern fast food as well…this year you could buy kebabs prepared with beef and/or chicken served in durum bread with salad and guindilla peppers! What is Spain coming too!!!

Aloaceite or Alliolli...made traditionally!

Aloaceite or Alliolli…made traditionally!

Of course there was much more over the 2 days of the fair but 5€ kept me occupied for the four hours of the morning session I was there…..and I have a couple of traditional local recipes to master in Alcochofas a la Montillana ( pork fillet braised in white wine with garlic and chalotas…a type of red onion) with artichokes and a dessert of tart made with apricot and cherry , the pastry being made from potato flour and lard with yeast……………..

Cannot wait for the next fair!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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