Ca’ del Carbonaio

Topsham's own estate extra-virgin olive oil

Topsham has its own extra-virgin olive oil! Ca’ del Carbonaio olio extra vergine d’oliva comes from Tuscany and is one of the very best you will ever taste. You can buy it from Richards and Darts Farm.

What is the story behind this Topsham extra virgin olive oil? Long-time Topsham resident Frances Nieduszynska and family have a small olive oil estate at Castagneto Carducci, near Bolgheri, in Tuscany’s Maremma. Bolgheri is famous as the source of some of Italy’s most famous – and expensive – wines such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia; it is also equally renowned amongst the conoscenti for the quality of its olive oil (the food writer Elizabeth David was apparently a fan).

Frances and family work 4 hectares of land and 220 olive trees, many of them almost a century old. In a good year, this can yield 1000 litres of extra virgin olive oil. Frances and her family oversee the whole cycle of production, ensuring that the olives are harvested directly off the tree early, usually in late October to early November when they are just changing colour (early harvesting results in a peppery, grassy, piquant style of oil). The olives are taken to a local family-run olive mill where they are simply crushed usually within 24 hours and pressed, the oil separated from the olive pulp and vegetable water by centrifuge, with nothing added whatsoever. It is then bottled unfiltered. This is pure olio extra vergine d’oliva – extra virgin olive oil — and it is magnificent: green, fresh and peppery, with grassy notes, hints of chicory, artichoke and almond. It is not at all greasy like some fatter styles of oil, but rather very lean and elegant.

If the new wine each year is a much anticipated and celebrated moment, for us here in Topsham, the first taste of Frances’s new season Ca’ del Carbonaio olio extra vergine d’oliva is equally special: so peppery that it catches the back of your throat, utterly delicious simply drizzled over toasted sourdough bread rubbed with a clove of garlic, a pinch of sea salt. Ca’ del Carbonaio is delicious used raw for salads, for dipping, drizzled over warm vegetables, pasta, grilled meat or fish, or drizzled into soups. Even the simplest dishes will be enhanced with the generous use of Ca’ del Carbonaio extra virgin olive oil.

For further information contact Frances