Why 1,000-year-old olive oil is Spain’s freshest new flavor

(CNN)It’s a sight that’s been greeting travelers for thousands of years.

On the Montsi plains of southern Catalonia, about a two-hour drive south of Barcelona, lies the Mar de Olivas, or Sea of Olives.
Here, shielded between two small mountain ranges, in a broad dry valley near the mouth of the Ebro River, olive groves stretch as far as the eye can see.
And not just any olive trees: This area hosts the largest concentration of millenary olive trees anywhere in the world.
To qualify as one of these ancient olive trees, the diameter of the trunk has to be more than 3.5 meters, measured at a height of 1.3 meters from the ground.
More than 4,400 trees thought to be 1,000 years or older have already been located and cataloged, while many more may be waiting to be discovered.
With most of these trees still producing oil, customers worldwide are developing a new taste for this ancient flavor.

The oldest olive tree in the world


Those looking for even older artifacts can’t miss the cave paintings at nearby Serra de Godall.
Here, some 8,000 years ago, groups of huntsmen left their pictorial mark in a series of open rock shelters.
The amazing hunting scenes, one of the few sites in Mediterranean cave art to feature women, are clearly visible to the naked eye and accessible for close-up inspection.
As you can see, even the oldest of the trees can look young next to some of the heritage surrounding them.
By claiming back their ancient olive trees, though, the inhabitants of this little-visited corner of the Mediterranean are not only tapping a sustainable economic resource, but re-establishing a direct link with this remote past.

How to get there

Although it’s possible to reach Ulldecona by train, we recommend traveling by car. The local train service is infrequent and the various sites of interest are scattered around a a radius of several kilometers from the town center.
From the AP-7 motorway (Barcelona-Valencia), follow exit 42, then road T-332 for around five kilometers.
Guided tours of millenary olive trees can be booked at Ulldecona Tourist Information Office.
The standard package costs 10 euroes (around $11) per person and includes a guided visit to the Airn Estate millenary olives open-air museum (accessible only as part of a guided tour), Ulldecona’s medieval castle and the Serra de Godall cave paintings.
Local millenary oils are also for sale at the Tourist Office.
The oils can also be tried at the Michelin-starred Les Moles and L’Antic Mol restaurants in Ulldecona.
Serra de Godall and Moleta del Remei
To visit the cave paintings, head to Centre d’interpretaci d’Art Rupestre, next to Ermita de la Pietat. Follow the road from Ulldecona to Tortosa for around four kilometers.
It’s advisable to book in advance, either by calling +34653937204 or through Ulldecona Tourist Office.
To reach the archaeological settlement of Moleta del Remei, follow the road from Ulldecona to Alcanar for about two kilometers. Guided tours can be booked through Ulldecona Tourist Office.
Moleta del Remei; 43530 Alcanar, Catalonia, Spain; +34977737639

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/24/foodanddrink/millenary-olive-trees-spain/index.html


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