Food, Lifestyle, Reviews

An olive oil tasting to remember at Tokara

There’s nothing quite like really, really good extra-virgin olive oil. I’m talking about an oil that, when you crack the seal and lift off the lid, has that distinct aroma (you know what I’m talking about), incredible tasting notes that linger, is silky smooth and makes quite literally everything taste that much better. 

Known as ‘liquid gold’ in our kitchen, we use it to season, coat and cook almost everything. From salads to roast chicken, ice cream to cake, extra-virgin olive oil is exciting, easy-to-use and tantalizingly tasty. What’s more, it has a number of health benefits, including helping with cardiovascular disease.

That being said, when Tokara invited me, along with a number of other media representatives, to an olive oil tasting, I simply couldn’t resist. But, before we headed off to Tokara’s estate, those who chose to take the bus, instead of driving through to Tokara in their own car, met at The Table Bay Hotel for a coffee and a chat before heading to the hills.

This not only gave me the opportunity to get my caffeine-buzz on for the day, but it was also a lovely chance to get to know a few of the people I would be spending the day with, too, before clambering onboard the bus and setting off.

It’s the second time I have been to The Table Bay Hotel, and it has always stood out with its velvet couches, roaring fireplaces and a view that I could sit around and stare at all day. So it’s only natural that sipping on tea and having a good chat at The Table Bay Hotel, in my opinion, was the perfect way to start our day.

Off to Tokara

As much as I love my tea and a cosy fireplace, it was exciting to set off to Tokara with a crowd of inspiring and interesting humans.

On arrival at Tokara, we were handed a crisp glass of Tokara’s 2017 Elgin Sauvignon Blanc, and boy-oh-boy did it taste as I stood basking in the winter sun with my new friendlings.

It was the first time I had tried one of Tokara’s wines, and it was packed with flavour. The most distinct flavours for me were passionfruit and guava, and it was perfectly full and rich, making it ideal for the cooler weather.

While the rest of the guests arrived, I took the opportunity to take in my surroundings. As you can see from the pictures, Tokara’s estate, which is sandwiched between the famous wine regions of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek and perched high up on Helshoogte Pass, has dreamy landscapes that go on for miles and miles.

Once everyone had arrived, it was time to get to know more about Tokara’s oil making process and sample some of their fine oils.

The Olive Shed Extraction Process

I have to admit, seeing the lengthy process undertaken to produce olive oil really made me appreciate it that much more.

Tokara uses a modern, continuous-cycle extraction plant, which was in the middle of processing freshly harvested olives while we were there. This gave us the opportunity to see them go through the entire process while absorbing the information that was given to us.

Gert van Dyk, the manager of Tokara’s Olive Shed, showed us exactly how Tokara’s delicious extra-virgin olive oils are made from start to finish, which was a real treat as each and every step is vital in order to produce such an amazing end product.

From being plucked from the olive trees sprawled across Tokara’s estate, to being washed, pitted, and pressed, all within 24-hours of being harvested, olive oil – in my opinion – really is liquid gold in the kitchen.

Gert also explained that Tokara uses a state-of-the-art centrifuge, this is a machine that separates golden olive oil from the flesh and skin. Separating the oil from the olives this way is a much faster process, and also ensures a cleaner, better quality end product.

The oil is then fed into big tanks where it is kept at a constant cool temperature, out of the sun and with no turbulence, ensuring the quality of the oil is nothing but the best before being bottled.

Did you know? The quality of olive oil starts to deteriorate as soon as it’s bottled. This is because it’s being exposed to both oxygen and light during the bottling process.

Olive oil tasting

After hearing all about the incredible journey olives go through to produce Tokara’s olive oil and to see and smell the end results live, it was time to take our seats and enjoy a tasting of three of Tokara’s finest fresh-off-the-press olive oils.

The first olive oil we tasted was their Mission olive oil, a single-varietal, fruity Spanish cultivar that is nothing short of magic. Once warmed in the palm of my hand I could immediately smell fresh-cut grass, apple skin and almond flavours, and is best paired with the likes of trout.

Next up we tried Tokara’s Multi-varietal olive oil, which is best paired with chicken, pork or pasta, and has hints of green pepper, pea shoots, baby marrow and rocket. This one was spicier than the Mission olive oil but is incredibly versatile and easy to use.

Lastly, we had the opportunity to taste Tokara’s Premium olive oil, this is Tokara’s flagship olive oil and it is both strong and fresh with hints of tomato leaf, green tomato, mustard powder, rocket and a walnut ending.

We were encouraged to taste the oils by themselves, which is done by rolling the oil from the back to the front of the tongue, then down the sides of the mouth, taking in a little air and then breathing out the nose, and paired with fresh ciabatta bread, Parmesan cheese and coarse salt that were spread out across the tables.

If this incredible tasting wasn’t enough, we spent the next few hours tucking into a three-course meal put together by chef Richard Carstens. Each course was created and made using the olive oils we had tasted and were washed down with Tokara’s 2016 Reserve Chardonnay and 2014 Reserve Syrah.

The meal consisted of:

Starter with Mission olive oil – Wood oven roasted mushrooms with root vegetable puree, spinach, peppered salami, anchovy and truffle dressing.

Main with Premium olive oil – Roasted free-range chicken breast with gratinated endive and Prins Albert parmesan.

Dessert with Multi-Varietal olive oil – Lemon olive oil cake with buffalo milk mozzarella and yoghurt, olive oil ice cream, black pepper and oregano.

For me, this whole experience not only gave me insight into Tokara’s olive oils and their process, but some of their wines, too. I left feeling satisfied and moreish, ready to explore more ways to use olive oil in our kitchen.

For more information, visit and book your very own olive oil tasting! Or just pop in to indulge in a delicious meal at Tokara Restaurant. 

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