27 November 2010

Snow and Olives

FOR THE PAST couple of weeks we have had about 100 kilos of olives sitting in our garage. We've collected them from the trees in our yard and today was the day to take them to the Moulin Baussy in Spéracèdes, a small village in the mountains just west of Grasse. The Moulin Baussy is where the owners of our house have been having their olives pressed into oil for literally decades. But this is the first time we have been there because this is the first year that we are taking care of the olives at the house. The process is not easy and we've probably spent a good 12-14 hours shaking, sorting, raking, picking, shaking-again, spreading, drying, and finally transporting the olives.

We decided to go today because today was the sixth annual Journée Portes Ouvertes des Moulins à Huile des Alpes-Maritimes, a great day where 15 of the biggest olive mills open their doors to the public -- giving everyone a chance to actually see the olive making process from start to finish. At the Moulin Baussy -- which is not a particularly big mill -- we watched all four of the major stages of the oil-making process and learned that in any given day the mill can process 8 tons of olives (I checked, I did not type that wrong!) At a much larger mill in the village right next to ours they process over 1000 tones of olives every year!

But I haven't even mentioned the best part of the day: it snowed! Snow in November! It wasn't much and it certainly didn't stick to the ground, but snow was falling for about 2 hours and it was great. Just before we left for the mill I took some coffee out to Patrick (the guy who looks after the garden, not our son) who was tending a fire in the back yard and we spent about 15 minutes chatting about weather and olives and watched as the snow fell into our mugs of coffee.

Snow. Coffee. A big fire burning off some of the branches and leaves from the yard. Then a trip to the moulin with a car full of olives with the whole family. That's a good late-autumn afternoon.

Burning off some tree clippings, leaves, etc.

Olives loaded in the car.

In to the mill with the snow falling.

The olive pit spitting area. I crushed Patrick in this competition (notice the sign). By the way, the world record is over 21 meters.

Best part of the Open Door day: tasting.

Beautiful. Two hours ago this was olives.


cocopuff1212 said...

This is lovely and awesome at the same time. Thank you for the report!

We've been having flurries in the Lyon area as well, although it's not enough to accumulate in the city. I was in Beaujolais yesterday and it's definitely colder there, and there was snow on the ground. What is it about snow that makes us feel like kids again? (Unless, of course, we have to shovel it.)

chcmichel said...

I am sure it was work collecting all of the olives but I think it was a unique experience to be able to do that and then deliver the olives to the mill. Do you get to keep the oil? Did you get to taste your oil?

French for a While said...

Yes...after all our deliveries are done we'll get the oil.

John in France said...

I've just stumbled on to your blog. Absolutely loved your report on harvesting the olives etc. We've spent lots of time in France with our kids, but now they're travelling all around the world - so love what you're doing. Well done! If it's OK I'd love to link to your blog from my own one?