I’m a big fan of olives so I didn’t hesitate to take Buffet Olives up on an invite to explore their farm at the foot of the Draakenstein mountains in Paarl. Thanks to a Mediterranean-style climate and mineral-rich soil, they grow some of the country’s best olives – picking them by hand and curing them via a nine-month fermentation process that sees the fruit’s natural sugars convert to lactic acid in their on-site factory.
Our day kicked off with a bunch of media being bundled into a bakkie clad in yellow Buffet Olives-branded blankies to get to a hill-top that served up epic views, bubbles and olives.
It was here that we got to chat to farm manager John who filled us in on a bit of the farm’s history. It’s one of the only farms in South Africa that owns its own groves and processes its own product – something it’s been doing for 25 years. It was also here that I discovered a fact that blew my mind a little. Are you ready for this? You don’t get green or black olives trees! ALL OLIVES ARE GREEN! Did you guys know that?!
All the foodie-focused media peeps kind of rolled their eyes when I asked but I seriously didn’t know that olives start out green and then turn black as they get older. So if you’re snacking on black olives, they’ve literally just matured more than the green ones. Please tell me some of you didn’t know that so I don’t feel beyond stupid right now.
We also got to learn about the Anna Foundation, a non-profit organisation that assists the children of farm workers by providing after school care that focuses on learning, play and people skills. Anna currently operates in the Western Cape and Buffet Olives is one of its farms that benefits. To learn more, get clicky clicky here. There are also several ways in which you can help.
We later hit the farm’s factory, but not before slipping into a sexy hair net.
Once inside the factory, I was struck by how fabulously clean it was. You could literally eat their olives off the floor. Not that you’d have to. Buffet Olives are stocked literally everywhere you go, so much so they have this li’l joke going where they say you could go up in a plane and parachute down to anywhere in South Africa and whatever store you walk into will have Buffet Olives on their shelves and for that I’m grateful. Their black olives are my fave pick when it comes to making one of my favourite dishes – pasta puttanesca. (Because I’m a doll, I’ve included the recipe at the bottom of this post.)
Speaking of food, we were later whisked off to Cascade Country Manor, a luxury guest house just round the corner from the farm for lunch.
The manor, which used to belong to an English Duke, is named for its gorgeous nearby waterfall that we were only too happy to chase, TLC’s warnings be damned.
The manor is often used as a wedding venue and its easy to see why. It seats up to 100 people and has an in-house co-ordinator.
All the food that was served up was made using olives and while the beef (with olives, but of course) was a highlight, I’m still thinking about their killer olive-infused cheese straws.
This all went down a treat with Dekker’s Valley wine.
In short, visiting Buffet Olives was a serious treat. There’s something awesome about seeing a food I love growing on trees, learning more about the community who picks each olive by hand and then walking around the super clean, world-class factory where it’s made. Now, every time I crack open a sachet of Buffet olives, they taste even better ‘cos I now appreciate just how much care and pride goes into each pack.
Here’s a big dankie to Go4Word PR to the invite as well as Buffet Olives and Cascades Manor for a divine day out.
Right, who’s ready to make a quick and easy pasta puttanesca?! Add two teaspoons minced garlic, a handful of capers, 1 sachet of black Buffet olives (pitted) and 12 anchovy fillets (anchovy haters won’t even know they’re in there) to a glug of oil and fry them up in a pan until the anchovies dissolve. Add a tin of chopped tomato plus a teaspoon of crushed chilli and bring to a simmer and cook for four or five minutes. Add your sauce to cooked spaghetti, top with parmesan and torn basil (if you’re super fancy) and BOOM, you’re good to go. Bon apetit!