For anyone with a background in cooking, extra virgin olive oil is a fascinating topic. I have always lived my life close to the olive tree, since it was my Grandmother’s only income apart from her widower’s pension (she would sell her olives to an olive press), my mother’s sister and her husband ran an olive oil lab and I spent childhood summers in Guadix hanging out in our caves *(this are homes built into clay hills) in the middle of olive tree fields. My first love was olives and later in life, extra virgin olive oil. My love of olives is such that I even got married in an old olive press and am convinced there is no better food than great toasted bread with extra virgin olive oil.

Through my work for a food importer in Chicago I have seen chefs become olive oil evangelists overnight such is the power of this historic food product. I have worked with prestigious Spanish brands and cooked through gallons of oils but always felt I needed to learn more about olive oil.

The moment I read about Escuela Europea de Cata de Aceite de Olive, I knew this was a gastronomic destination I could not miss. Located in one of Madrid’s hippest neighbourhoods, Chueca and stone throw away from metro station, the school is on a small side street.

I’ve been to enough cooking schools and worked and ran quite a few, so I knew immediately Mar Luna means business. From the documentation to┬áher gravitas, there is zero bullshitting. Mar is a petite woman with a “big voice” who speaks freely about the good, the bad and the ugly of state of extra virgin olive oils.

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Her class was challenging and fast paced. This not a class for hedonist looking to taste yummy oils as there will be quite a few with defects that are less than flavourful but thought provoking. Here is the link to our class here.

*look out for a post about food of the caves of Granada coming soon!