South Lea Olive Oil

South Lea oliv oilA few days ago, we ran out of the expensive, gourmet olive oil we use on salads. It was OK, though, because I needed to get petrol anyway.

Yes, that’s right; we get our high-end olive oil at the local service station.

It just so happens that the owners of the petrol station, Peter and Frances Baylis, also own an olive farm. It’s a small operation. I don’t know how much they produce every year, but it’s not much. At olive harvest time in June and July, I make sure to ask Peter how the harvest has been (while I’m filling up the car). That way I know if there will be a shortage later in the year (last year I managed to get the very last bottle available). What they lack in volume they more than make up for on quality. Last years’ oil won a silver medal from Olives NZ (, and it wins our seal of approval every year.

One of the gals who works in the petrol station is always curious when I pick up a bottle of olive oil with my petrol.

“You really like this stuff, eh? What do you use it for?”

The way I like it best is mixed with fresh thyme and homemade bocconcini (bite-sized mozzarella balls). It’s also good on salads, drizzled on fresh bread.

In addition to just being really good, I like the idea I’m eating something produced locally by people I know. I’ve walked through the rows of the South Lea olive grove, and I know that the oil has travelled just a few short kilometres to my table. It’s almost as good as growing it myself (maybe better, because it’s less work).

What is your favourite local product?