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A distinguished Kyklopas by mrs Maria Katsouli

A distinguished Kyklopas by mrs Maria Katsouli

Even though she knew that Thrace was an important passage for the spread of the olive tree, Maria Katsouli never expected that only a few kilometres outside of Alexandroupolis almost hidden away there could be such special olive oil - until she discovered Kyklopas at the 1st Panhellenic Olive Oil Festival.

They say that our roots and childhood experiences characterise our lives. For Argyris Kelidis, with a great-great grandfather olive oil producer since 1860, it seems that it was his destiny for olives and olive oil to become an extension of himself; he fondly remembers even falling asleep to the sound of rustling olive leaves. At the age of five, he was picking the best olives and by 7 he had already chosen the location where he would one day build the olive mill as there was running water nearby.

Starting with his father’s mere 450 olive trees in the 1970’s, today the number stands at 4,500, with ample experience in planting, cultivation and as a worker at the cooperative mill of the region.

Together with his wife Niki, he decided to build Kyklopas Olive Mill in the exact same location that he had chosen as a child. An exemplary olive oil mill for its time, today it is fully modernised with the olive trees now numbering 12,000. His aim was to go from bulk to bottled olive oil - his was in fact the first bottled olive oil in Thrace - and to have full control of all stages of the production process, from the field to the bottle so as to create high quality extra virgin olive oil.

All this, not in a traditional olive oil producing area, but in the region of Evros, in the small village of Makri near Alexandroupolis. It may seem strange to us non-Thracians that olive trees can be found so far north, but excavations and textbooks tells of a history that exceeds two and a half thousand years. It has been lauded by Homer and Alexander the Great and it prides itself on having the largest perennial ancient olive grove in Greece.

Despite all that, quality is not made by history but by the environment, the location, the climatic conditions and above all by the people!

It is true that olive oil of the Makri variety was completely unknown until 2008, the year that Argyris Kelidis won the first prize in a quality competition at an olive oil festival, with the gurus of olive oil and all of us soon seeking out Kyklopas, to try the oil and be blown away by the aromas and characteristics of this emerging variety.

"This medal gave us untold joy, placed our region on the olive oil map in Greece. Alongside strong olive oil regions of Crete and the Peloponnese, our products gained value and gave us the incentive not to rest on our laurels but to pull up our sleeves and work hard to continuously improve our products.", Argyris Kelidis says with pride. With the Kyklopas olive trees sweeping the prizes in all international competitions, Makri is now permanently placed among important olive oil producing areas of Greece, even acquiring PDO status. Makri olives render an oil with great persistence of its taste characteristics over time, especially the fruity element that is most important when classifying an olive oil as extra virgin olive oil.

Kyklopas olive oil under the microscope

It is hard to find sweet olive oil and I am certain that if you are a fan of sweet olive oil, then this oil with its silky taste will find a permanent home in your kitchen. Kyklopas olive oil with its generous fruitiness unravels a complex character of aromas in the nose reminiscent of green banana, red apple, mango, blossoms such as chamomile and daisy, and fresh oregano that follow on the palate in the mouth.

What is impressive is the intensity of the fruitiness and the flavoursome harmony with the green spicy characteristics that appear discreetly in the aftertaste.

I enjoy the oil with lean fish such as mullet and sole, grilled seafood like squid, chicken or rabbit either roasted or fried with tarragon, as well as in any salad that has fruit like cabbage and green apple salad or low-fat fresh cheese.

We wish to thank Maria Katsouli for her article. She is a sommelier and a certified olive oil taster.

The article was published in Eatme Magazine (Issue 1 November-December 2018-11-04) as a monthly inset with the newspaper Ethnos on Sunday.


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