Two Black Dogs Olive Oil

With the romantic notion of escaping the city at weekends and one day relocating permanently, Nicky and Graham went looking for a bare block of land not far from where Graham grew up.  What they hadn’t anticipated was a canny real estate agency showing them an established, 15-year-old olive grove in Mangawhai.

The grove at Mangawhai

The grove at Mangawhai

Knee-high grass shrouded the trunks and the overgrown trees needed a good prune, but the pull of the land – Graham’s a farm boy at heart – decided their fate.  Buying the property in late 2014, the first Two Black Dogs E.V.O.O. (extra virgin olive oil) release – named after their loveable black labradors, Joey and Jett – was in May 2015.  The learning curve was fast and steep – the original owner was on hand for advice – and they’ve been winning Olives NZ awards since 2015.

The Two Black Dogs - Joey and Jett

The Two Black Dogs - Joey and Jett

During the week they both hold down day jobs, and while Graham oversees the olive grove and production, and Nicky focuses on sales and marketing, at weekends you’ll find them up at the property sharing the mowing – Nicky bought her first pair of gumboots and had to learn to drive the tractor – and maintenance duties.

Graham looks pretty happy with the harvest

Graham looks pretty happy with the harvest

Nicky has her hands full at harvest time

Nicky has her hands full at harvest time

With their 10 acre grove now home to around 800 trees, it’s fortunate that Two Black Dogs’ five varieties of olive trees – Leccino, Ascolano, Koroneiki, Frantoio and Pendolino – all with very distinct flavours, don’t all fruit every year.  With a sloping property it’s quite a challenge to manoeuvre machinery, including the infamous ‘tree shaker’ around.  The biennial pick and pack takes place – for two or three of the varieties each year – in early autumn.  The olives are harvested when blush in colour to get maximum flavour; as olives ripen from green to purple the flavour slowly decreases.

It takes around 7kgs of olives to make one litre of oil

It takes around 7kgs of olives to make one litre of oil

The press house is only 30 minutes from the property and it’s processed into oil within hours of the harvest.  The oil is stored in stainless steel for six weeks to allow the sediment to separate and sink to the bottom.  The oil is then bottled, before sending to Australia for certification.

Creating an award-winning artisan product is truly a labour of love.  Given it takes around 7kgs of olives to make one litre of oil, it makes sense that extra virgin olive oil is priced at a premium.  But don’t save extra virgin olive oil for a special occasion – the fresher the oil, the better the taste – just think about what you’re cooking and the method so that you can savour the flavour.

Nicky and Graham plan to extend their range of oils and vinaigrettes and are keen to press their own oil in the future.  One day they might even realise their dream of building a house and living at the property too; a 20 foot caravan and workman’s shed are the perfect interim solution.

Two Black Dogs award-winning certified extra virgin olive oils are available online – twoblackdogsnz.com or follow them on Facebook or Instagram to find out which local markets you’ll find them at next.

Two Black Dogs 2018 release is available from 22 July 2018.

Enjoy!

Michelle

Photos: All images supplied by Two Black Dogs E.V.O.O.

Telegraph Hill Olivery

The red and green branding is distinctly recognisable as Telegraph Hill but just quietly you might be surprised just how extensive their product range is.  With shelf space in supermarkets and some speciality food stores at capacity, even established food producers find it challenging to get new products in store.

Telegraph Hill Olivery tasting room

Telegraph Hill Olivery tasting room

Telegraph Hill Olivery was my first stop visiting local food producers in and around Hawkes Bay in early February and I was lucky enough to get Adrienne’s expert knowledge all to myself.  Had I called in during the afternoon, a large tour party would have been vying for her attention.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Adrienne explain the rich history of Telegraph Hill - she’s been involved with Telegraph Hill for many years. And of course tasting an extensive range of oils, olives, chutneys and much more.

Telegraph Hill olive oil tasting

Telegraph Hill olive oil tasting

Telegraph Hill was New Zealand’s first olivery back in 2001, and Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s biggest olive region, with more than half the country’s production. The Telegraph Hill main grove has 2000 trees and utilises local contract growers to provide fruit to keep up with production demands. What started as a cottage industry in Rose Gresson's (a dietician) home kitchen and selling with the assistance of her friend Jackie at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market, now operates from a purpose built Olivery, complete with viewing window. The business is now owned and run by Geoff Crawford who has been involved for many years and is incredibly passionate about the New Zealand olive industry.

Olive trees at the Olivery

Olive trees at the Olivery

But for me, the hardest decision was deciding what to take home.  In the end, I settled on: Flowering Oregano and Lemon Olives - perfect for a nibbles platter; Olive Zing - a fabulous versatile seasoning combining olive powder, organic flaky salt, pepper, chilli and lemon; and a bottle of Wasabi Vinaigrette, a smooth Asian style dressing with a peppery finish, perfect for salads, fish and chicken or drizzled on warm potatoes.  And my new favourite - Manuka Smoked Tomato Pesto – absolutely loving it by the looks of the half full jar!

Telegraph Hill olives tasting

Telegraph Hill olives tasting

To find out what other products are on offer or for great recipes and ideas visit www.telegraphhill.co.nz or drop into the Olivery next time you’re in Hawke’s Bay.  I will definitely be back.

Michelle

ps  keep an eye out for a more posts on New Zealand food producers as this becomes a regular feature on The Foodie Inc blog.  And if you think of a product or person to include, let us know.