As we left bright and early to head to Madrid on Tuesday, we made a stop in Jaén, the extra virgin olive oil capital of the world, to tour an olive oil field and factory! How interesting! When driving through this part of the country you see “olivos” everywhere! We couldn’t believe how many were planted and how high up the hillsides they were growing. Who is the world takes care of all of them?! The finca we visited had olive trees that were approximately 100 years old. We learned that most olive trees started with 3-4 trunks but now only have two to better fit in the machines that shake the olives off in the fall.
There are three stages in olive oil production: reception, factory and then warehouse. It is approximately a 35 minute process from beginning to end and one of three types of oils are produced: lampante, virgin or extra virgin. Lampante is the olive oil with the most imperfections and extra virgin is the best quality. It’s interesting that I had never even heard of anything but Extra Virgin thanks to Rachel Ray! We are spoiled at the grocery back home and didn’t even know it!
We learned how to properly taste olive oil by covering a small cup with one hand and warming it by twisting it with the other. This warming helps to release the aroma. It was funny to see the kids smelling and sipping olive oils! We had the opportunity to taste two varieties and I felt so educated I choosing my favorite one, el morado. It is without a doubt the best olive oil I have ever tasted. I purchased three to bring home but will be keeping two for myself!
We then traveled to a small city in the middle of nowhere to dine at a restaurant with a Michelin star chef, one of the best in the world. We started with a pâté that I could barely look at but some of the kids loved, a plate of various hams and olives, of course. Our main dish was “rabo de toro” which many of the kids were hesitant to try but ended up cleaning their plates! I would compare this meat to roast beef as it cooks for hours slowly and falls off of the bone. After our postre, or dessert, it was back to the bus to head to Madrid!
I slept for two hours and woke up just in time to see Robin and Pablo practicing the double kiss with the kids that Spaniards do when they meet one another. The kids nailed it! They all were getting nervous and before we knew it, we arrived to the Bernabeu Real Madrid stadium to meet the families. What an amazing place to meet!
I recorded reactions on the GoPro so I did not take many pictures. My heart was full as I saw the hugs, kisses and smiles shared amongst the Americans and Spaniards. An unforgettable week undoubtedly awaits all of these kids. I’m excited to hear all of the stories on the plane ride home next week.
Once all kids were with their families, Sra. Perry and I headed to Espahotel on Gran Vía (think downtown New York City) to check in for the week. We stay in Madrid to be readily accessible if the kids should need anything during the week.
We ended the night with dinner at one of Pablo’s neighborhood restaurants where they know him by name. We were looking forward to not setting our alarms for the first time in a week and getting a good nights sleep. ¡Bienvenidos a Madrid!