Gaetano Schiralli in Puglia is what Gianfranco Becchina was in Sicily: a "turning-point" man. Puglia, like Sicily, was and still is known as a land that produces vast quantities of "industrial" olive oil. "Fine quality" extra virgin olive oils were nowhere to be found, until we met Gaetano...
Gaetano Schiralli's family began producing extra virgin olive oil in 1922 on the hills of Bitetto, 16 kilometers south-east of Bari on the road to Altamura. The small family farm has more than 8,000 olive trees spread over 20 perfectly manicured hectares surrounded by the typical stone-walls of Puglia.
Gaetano, unlike his neighbors, started to work closely with a professor in Tuscany who developed a state of the art frantoio for Gaetano's new frantoio. Gaetano wanted to press the olives while they are still green and not blushing, as well as to create a product worthy of its name: Crudo, meaning Raw.
Gaetano's efforts have already paid off. He has won the prestigious Gold Medal at the LA County Fair. Bravissimo!
Besides the unique Crudo olive oil, Gaetano introduced us to their local Tremiti di Bitetto olives, which they cure with salt and water, without the use of chemicals, lye or any other product. The olives are so meaty, the flavor so clean and fresh, they are addictive. The olives are used in many food preparation, as for example, a focaccia bread dotted with these olives and cherry tomatoes.