Max Thomae, a famous chef at the Mövenpick Hotel, says a good olive oil enriches the flavor of food. Before creating the concept of “blond flavors,” he conducted long and detailed research on oils and their proper pairing with food. He describes olive oil as a culture and uses it in every food and in every technique
As with wine, not much was known about olive oil, particularly extra virgin oil, in Turkey until the 1990s, despite its status as a tasty, economical product.
Today much more is known about the rich, delicate product. For example, the older the age of the tree from which olives are harvested, the better the quality of the olive oil. While it is common knowledge that less acid in oils is better, it is also true that one should not buy only one type of olive oil but use an array of products for different foods.
“Today 13 companies have their geographical mark on their oils, and although there is no such system in Turkey, the Ayvalık Chamber of Commerce has implemented a system to distinguish the North Aegean, Ayvalık and South Aegean regions,” said Nedim Atilla, a gourmet writer from the Aegean district of Ayvalık. “We hope the Marmara region will have the same system, too. There are 22 olive trees in Turkey but only 11 of them are suitable for oil production. Olives, just as grapes, have different flavors in different regions,” he said.
Upon the invitation of hotel general manager Frank Reichenbach, olive oils were tasted and assessed at an event a few weeks ago at the Movenpick Resort in Bodrum. A team made up of Mehmet Yalçın, Ahmet Örs and the hotel chef, Max Thomae, chose the top virgin olive oils among the 50 different varieties of nine different types they sampled.
Having chosen the top quality olive oils, Thomae prepared a special culinary event, the Extraordinary Flavors of Olive Oil. Turkish wines, chosen by Yalçın, also accompanied the meal.
Thomae said a good olive oil enriches the flavor of food. Before creating the “blond flavors” concept, he said he conducted long and detailed research on oils and their compatibility with different foods. He describes olive oil as a culture and says he uses it in every food.
Tasting olive oil in wine glasses
Journalists and writers, who were among the participants of the event, tasted the olive oils in wine glasses, offering their opinion on the nine types of oil and their best pairing with food.
After tasting the oils, Thomae brought the dishes to the table. The first one was cold artichoke soup made with three different types of olive oil. Those, who enjoy the intense taste of olive oil preferred Tariş natural virgin oil, while others who like more neutral taste preferred Komili cold virgin oil.
Another dish offered was goose liver meatballs with olive oil tomato sauce and yoghurt. All the participants at the event declared it a magnificent dish.
Later on came the main course, cheek of a lamb cooked on low heat, lamb chop mixed with olive oil and milk, lamb thigh, fresh potatoes, steamed Mediterranean vegetables served with oregano, and lamb served with sesame oil sauce.
Thomae gave the leading role to olive oil in all of the dishes, making a great contribution to Turkish cuisine. This tasty experience will continue at the Mövenpick Hotel Bodrum until August 30.
Bodrum and Food
Until recently, Bodrum was known only as a holiday destination, and was certainly not considered a leader on the Turkish culinary scene. Chef Max Thomae has been living in Turkey for 15 years and working hard to improve Turkish cuisine. Thanks to chefs like him, the quality of food in Bodrum has improved significantly.
Thomae thinks that all-inclusive holiday villages damage the presentation and improvement of Turkish cuisine. “When a foreigner comes to Turkey and sees this kind of food, he or she is disappointed. Bodrum should be identified with fresh fish. Lagos and red mullet are the most important fish of the region. Olive oil dishes, mezes and herbs should always be on the menu,” he said.