I am always ranting on about DOP and AOP and why, you may ask?
DOP is short for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (literally “Protected Designation of Origin”). As the name suggests, this certification ensures that products are locally grown and packaged. And in France, Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP) label is the European Union version of France's Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC), also referred to as the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in English. It basically means the products with these labels protect a distinct cultural and gastronomic heritage.
I am sure you knew all this and it’s something I am very passionate about, as this is our last line of defence against food manufacturing giants churning out more tasteless pap under some marketing message that it may have been ‘Made in Italy’: more likely some factory in Leicester, with poor under-paid souls on 12 hour shift patterns. I spent a short time working for such a food manufacturer, so speak from some experience.
As a young chef, I joined Euro Torques (a chef’s hat), an organisation dedicated to the preservation of regional food and cookery. As de la Torre’s, we are paid up member of the Slow Food network. Slow Food is an organisation that promotes local food and traditional cooking. It was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986 and has since spread worldwide.
If you have ever tasted small scale production pan scalded clotted cream that is allowed to form a thick yellow crust, you will know what I mean. If you tasted dry cure Gloucester old spot bacon, you will know what I mean. So yes, I am passionate about food having provenance and taste. Mary and I have been to Nyons from where we import the tanche olives. The terroir, the harvest methods, careful grading and production all add to this unique tasting olive. This could not be produced or replicated anywhere on the globe, only in La Drôme Provençale. We have a wonderful video on our olives page that shows La Drôme Provençale and Tanche in all its glory.
And like the tanche olive growers, many of our other suppliers and producers across the Mediterranean countries will share the same passions for their region, their method of production and unique taste. Over 50% of our stock is now DOP or AOP or we have direct relationship with the supply chain.
I found these old pictures of me. The black and white one was me looking rather serious, at a new hotel owned by the Chairman of Bradford City Football club. And the colour one (where I’m a bit older and yes, I had hair too) is from when I just completed an advanced pastry course. The basket and its contents is all made from pulled sugar, even the ribbons. I salute my last head chef Eric Cleveau. He insisted we used French cocoa barry chocolate and when the fish order came in, he always ordered razor clams that he cooked for the team. I learnt so much about French regional cookery and ingredients from him.
Long live taste, long live uniqueness, long live great flavour.