Sarti: Chapman Hill olive oil

Disclosure: I attended the tasting and dinner at Sarti courtesy of Chapman Hill.

Once upon a time, when I was more naive than I am now, I agreed to accept a bag of fresh olives from a friend.

I had grand aspirations of marinating my own olives. They were going to be great. FOOL. Anyone who has ever dealt with fresh olives will know how much work in involved in preparing them – they need to be soaked in water, changed daily for weeks to leach out the bitterness.

Perhaps, instead of spending weeks babying these stupid olives, I should’ve tried crushing them to extract the oil. Or even better – I should’ve just tossed the olives out, bought myself a bottle of oil, and saved myself the angst.

In what is probably a very awkward segue, recently I was invited to a tasting of the latest Chapman Hill olive oil harvest. Chapman Hill are a Victorian based producer, located on the northern slopes of Central Victoria’s Great Dividing Range. They produce three single varietal extra virgin olive oils – Frantoio, Leccino and New Norcia.

It was interesting tasting the differences in the three oils. Frantoio was rich with herby aromas and a mild pepperiness. Leccino was the most robust of the three, with sweet and complex aromas. It’s tingly and spicy with a medium bitterness. And New Norcia was a full flavoured oil, with a spicy, slightly bitter citrus finish.

The oil tasting was held on Sarti’s outdoor terrace. Sarti is a one hat restaurant serving modern Italian food, and afterwards we moved into the dining room for dinner made with the Chapman Hill oils.

We started with stuzzichini – small Italian appetisers.

These were superb wild mushroom and caprino suppli, which came on an aioli made using the New Norcia extra virgin olive oil. The balls were crunchy and strongly mushroom flavoured – really good.

The tuna carpaccio with mandarins and capers used the Frantoio evoo. Quite citrusy and sweet, the tuna had a lovely texture.

Next was marinated giardiniera with house made capocollo, using the Leccino evoo, containing thinly sliced cured pork, pickled vegetables, and pine mushrooms from Mt Macdeon.

In between dishes, we nibbled on marinated kalamata olives.

My favourite was the melanzane al forno – baked eggplant filled with a mixture of ricotta and bread topped with a rich napoli sauce flavoured with plenty of garlic.

For mains there were big platters of slow braised lamb with artichokes and buffalo mozzarella, which contained the Frantoio evoo. The lamb was great – tender and flavoursome.

It came with a side of Italian greens with blueberries and pine nuts.

We finished with an interesting dessert – salami. Well, not *real* salami, but doesn’t it look like it? We had chocolate and amarena salami that came with marzipan and pistachio “olives” and brioche. The chocolate salami was quite rich, so I only had a small piece and it was the perfect end to the meal. Fun dessert!

Dinner was enjoyable and it was really nice to meet the producers behind Chapman Hill. But I completely missed my opportunity to ask for tips in dealing with olives in case I’m ever foolish enough to accept a bag again.

Chapman Hill Olive Oil

6 Russell Place
Phone: 9639 7822

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