Milan, capital city of oil

What's going to happen at the next Olio Officina Food Festival, which will be held in the year of the Expo? This meeting will take place at the Palazzo delle Stelline in Milan, Italy, from January 22 to 24, 2015. A vast and remarkable array of events, some of which are presented below, before the more detailed, official programme is released.

Maria Carla Squeo

Milan, capital city of oil

The fourth edition of the Olio Officina Food Festival will last three days. We have the pleasure of giving you a foretaste of all that is going to take place at this prestigious and celebrated event. A variety of topics will be analyzed during the festival.

THE ART OF BLENDING. Oil as a plurality. What is a blend? And what is the art of blending? Throughout the entire duration of the festival, the public will have a first hand opportunity to dabble with blending: in the tasting hall it will be possible to sample and compare the raw materials before they are combined to make all the various blends. After tasting the single-varietal oils, the public can try to combine them to make a blend. Whoever takes part in this game, will have his or her product rated by a blend master.

And speaking of blends, there will be a round table with some of the leading experts in this sector discussing this topic; despite being one of the strongest features of many Italian enterprises, the importance of blending is still not fully understood.

Finally, there will be the presentation of Giovanni Zucchi’s book L’olio non cresce sugli alberi. L’arte del blending: come nasce un olio di grande qualità (Oil doesn’t grow on trees. The art of blending and producing top quality oil).

OLIVE MILLS. A topic such as this one had to be at the centre of the festival’s attention. We will deal with olive mills in an unconventional manner, analyzing them from a new angle. There will be top experts, but more importantly people who are usually neglected, such as architects. We believe that the olive mills where architecture and functionality blend harmoniously possess a unique beauty that deserves to be acknowledged. It will be interesting to hear the opinions of some of the invited speakers. There will be many new faces, people voicing some unusual, even controversial opinions. It will doubtlessly be a great surprise.

OIL AND DIETS. This is another issue that the festival intends to analyze in all its complexity, taking into account all the more recent and popular diet patterns. All the truths and latest finds will be presented by renowned dieticians, nutritionists, biochemists and chefs, as well as former professional athletes who now focus on finding diets that will still keep them in shape. The aim is to shed some light on topics that we tend to neglect when we are mesmerized by all the latest diet fads.

FLAVOURED OILS. There is a growing market for these products, especially abroad, but little is known about their production process or how to discern their true quality, or even what is the best way to use them. There will be interventions by experts in the field, food technologists and famous chefs.

BALSAMIC VINEGARS. The much-acclaimed space reserved to vinegar returns once again. There will be one day entirely devoted to this topic, Thursday, January 22. If you wish to take part, it is of the utmost importance to book immediately. Only a limited number of participants are admitted to the meetings, not only because very select balsamic vinegars will be sampled, but also for logistic and organizational reasons. We therefore advise you to pre-enrol, sending a request to

FRYING. The festival has always devoted great attention to this topic, and this year too will be no exception. Indeed, it will be analyzed in even greater depth, taking into account all the latest scientific finds on this subject, which will be presented by illustrious nutritionists, oil chemists and chefs.

FASHION. We could certainly not neglect fashion. In the past, we had the pleasure of inviting famous fashion designers such as Chiara Boni. This year we intend to surprise our audience with the debut of two designers, who will present a range of jewelry inspired by olive trees, as well as a line of handbags, once again inspired by both these plants and the Van Gogh art exhibition that is currently being held in Milan. There are many surprises in store…

VIDEOCLIPS. There will be many, many art videos, but also TV commercials, and even a cartoon on oil: all these shorts will be presented and played in the presence of the authors. We shall never cease being surprised by all the ways oil has of being a protagonist in our lives.

OIL BAR. What will this year’s oil bar be like? We want to surprise you, so we shan’t reveal anything. Wait and see…

CHILDREN. We have always paid great attention to them. There will be the traditional “Oil game” devised by Olio Officina, which is basically a variant of the traditional board game known as “The game of the goose”. This is an instructive game that children always enjoy, because they can try out oil tasting, and much more. The young participants will also have the opportunity to enjoy a cartoon on olive oil.

GARDA DAY. A whole day devoted to the famed extra virgin Garda PDO oil, with various events highlighting not only the actual product, but also other aspects that contribute to its popularity: oil tourism for instance, which gives the visitors the opportunity to wander around olive groves and visit the mills. Many surprises are in store, which will be disclosed soon, when we publish the programme.

OTHER PROPOSALS. Naturally, the festival will also focus on other aspects that are more closely linked to food, as well as landscape, the environment, and the economy. Much attention will also be devoted to culture. There will be a variety of exhibitions, such as that named “What’s an oil vessel for an artist?”, large wood engravings representing “Eros in cloisters”, the amusing collection by Valerio Marini, “Erotic oil” and last but not least, Olio Officina Art, with its display on “The oil of the future”.

Finally we would like to mention the sampling areas, where professional tasters will guide the visitors through a vast array of oils of different provenance. This year there will also be the opportunity to sample some oils obtained from noble seeds (pumpkin, sesame, avocado, grapes).

COUNTRY OF HONOUR. This year the Olio Officina Food Festival has selected the Kingdom of Morocco, with its renowned and excellent extra virgin olive oils, as the Country of Honour. Agro-Pole Olivier and Meknes played a fundamental role in re-launching quality olive tree cultivation in this region of Maghreb. Morocco is a dynamic country, with a great desire to develop and catch the spotlight.

MORE SURPRISES. There are many things in store, but our lips are sealed, because the director of the Festival, Mr. Luigi Caricato, has forbidden us to disclose anything. We will be silent, but not for long. We just want to say that there will be a whole hall devoted to a brand new surprise, something quite unexpected, unconventional and rather demanding, but we don’t mind this, because it is always nice to surprise our guests.

OIL NOURISHES LOVE. And finally, the main theme of the 2015 edition: love. It will be, for a variety of reasons, the recurring element of the entire festival. A topic centred on the senses. What is so special about this? Be patient, and you will see. On such a hot issue, we shall say no more: you can be sure however that you will soon be fascinated and indeed, seduced.

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