An interview with Johan Blanche
Johan is a writer and consultant of the sensory world of food and beverages. This includes wine, olive-oil and all kind of high quality raw materials. He is also head of wine valuation at Systembolaget / Bukowskis auctions in Sweden.
You are an olive oil lover and have written the book “Nya Olivoljeguiden”. Could you explain where you got this idea from?
I had been working with wine for a long time and discovered that olive-oil was just as interesting. In Sweden, few people had knowledge about olive-oil and how to use it. So why not write a book and guide in the same way as a book of wine?
Do you have a “signature dish” or favorite dish you enjoy cooking with olive oil?
Oh, many. I love to use really smooth and pure olive-oil in springtime with new potatoes, carrots or new harvested asparagus. ‘Primeur’ vegetables. Or for the more ‘heavy’ bitter and peppery olive-oil on top of pumping-soup or Jerusalem artichoke-soup. Warm and intense in winter-time. When in the mood for experimenting, I would combine olive-oil with fruit, cheese or even chocolate!
How would you describe your style of cooking?
Actually a mix of Mediterranean cooking and elegant Nordic flavors. Always starting with great raw material available and from the current season.
From your point of view, which skills you need to be a good Chef?
Being humble with the ingredients and carefully listening for their potentials. Having a clear idea of the result and the ability to make up the right taste-balance at the end. This sounds like creating a poem or so… But I do think cooking is like creating music or any art of object!
You´ve recently attended Finca Solmark´s Harvest Festival in Carratraca, Málaga, Spain. How was your experience? What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time at Finca Solmark?
Carratraca area is a lovely place in many ways. Geographically exciting, botanically long history and also a place with a unique environment. So much cooler then areas closer to the sea which gives great conditions for growing fruit and vegetables with high aromas and with strong personality. I really am looking forward to see Finca Solmark develop as an ‘eco-park’ with rare trees and fruits.
Thanks to the growing interest in healthy eating and the popularity of Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil has become fashionable. Could you tell us some of the most important proven properties of Extra Virgin Olive Oil for your health from your experience?
Olive-oil affects so many of the human organs. When writing my book I started to list all benefits in special chapter. But soon I had to stop when this chapter seemed like being longer than the rest of the book! Most important positive impact is on our heart and vessel-system preventing cardiovascular diseases. Olive-oil is rich in monounsaturated fat which increases the ‘good’ cholesterol in our body.
We plan to organize next year interactive cooking classes, plenty of laughs, fun, delicious food and Spanish local products such as olive oil and avocados. What do you think about this kind of gastronomy experiences from Production to Cooking?
I think this is a great idea. Here in Sweden people love to know about where the food comes from – the history and people behind the raw materials. Cooking classes has become a new way of meeting and alternative to traditional dinners. Being interactive and follow the menu from ‘earth’ to ‘plate’. How wonderful would it not be to pick the fruit and vegetables and then bring it directly to the kitchen! It’s also a nice way of get together in a relaxing form.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m hoping soon to be able to produce a new olive-oil guide with updated descriptions and information.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
Clearly, I’m a real olive-oil fan… It has so many benefits, not only its own taste but it also helps other ingredients to bloom and expand. It’s a fantastic companion in the kitchen. As with wine, there’s so many different styles and characters, each suitable for various occasions. It’s a product given us from the earth, sun and history!
ABOUT FINCA SOLMARK
Finca Solmark is a Spanish-Swedish Rural EcoTourism engaged in the production, marketing and export to Europe of olive oil, avocado and other ecological products to Sweden. It offers charming rural accommodation and several projects to promote awareness, dissemination and environmental education.