A unique hands-on harvesting event followed by a 3-course dinner, Branch to bottle exemplifies a complete local experience in Malta. We truly recommend this event to both tourists and locals alike.
Olive oil harvesting happens once a year in Malta, and starts as early as mid-September. The ‘Bidni’ olive variety is endemic to Malta, the grove of the Grima family can be found in a stretch of woodland between Bidnija and Wardija. Although ‘Bidni’ was virtually unknown just 10 years ago, it came to prominence over the last few years, with the Mediterranean Culinary Academy partnering with the Grima family to produce and make the monovarietal Bidni Extra Virgin Olive Oil accessible to the public.
So, last year, as the summer season drew to a close, we decided to take some time away from the laptop and spend an afternoon in an unfamiliar but scenic location for the branch to bottle event. It was our first time visiting the Bidni Olive Grove, and we were excited to be part of a truly unique local experience.
We arrived at the Grove just before 2pm to the warm welcome of the wonderful Immanuel Grima as we waited for the rest of the guests to arrive on site. When everyone arrived, he gathered the group together in a small circle and gave us a short tour of the olive grove. He later shared his insights on the olive oil harvesting season in Malta, how the climate affects olive production, while also documenting the groves’ rich history. It was lovely to hear directly from a passionate family worker - we could feel how much it meant to him and how contented he was to answer all sorts of questions from the guests.
Once the introduction was finished, we quickly got stuck into the harvesting process. We all grabbed an olive picking fork and started brushing the trees to allow the olives to fall gently on the mat. Although the process was not overly strenuous, it was a fiery day, so we took turns to take breaks and feast on the scrumptious light snacks and fresh fruit provided in one of the shaded areas. It was here that we started to get to know the guests, and we chatted about literally everything.
We then made our way to the most picturesque dining setting you could ever imagine. Under the shade and protection of the beautiful olive trees, several tables were neatly laid out. There were around 8 tables accommodating big groups, couples and families. We happened to be placed on the larger table where we made new acquaintances with some of the most interesting people – one of them being the owner and face behind the famous Chocolate District in Malta.
Immanuel took center stage once more. He expertly led the olive oil tasting session as we tried a variety of olive oils from the Bidni range, comparing them to standard ‘off the shelf’ olive oils. There was another informative tasting session of local honey which was also delicious. We were also treated to a suckling lamb exhibition.
As sunset was approaching, we were treated to a 3 course locally sourced dinner prepared by the Mediterranean Culinary experts. The meal was accompanied by Bidni olive oil and carefully selected local wines. We laughed and drank wine long into the night – indulging the true local experience. It does not get better than this!
This year’s branch to bottle is following the same concept and flow as last year’s successful edition – starting at 5pm allowing the sun’s impact to diminish ever so slightly.
An exquisite three-course meal has been carefully planned by the chefs at the Mediterranean Culinary Academy. Guests will start off with fish on toast with bone marrow butter, smoked sea salt and pork crackling, followed by Polletta porchetta style chicken served with carrots, autumn coleslaw & crispy potatoes as a main course and te' fil-plattina roly-poly with tea mousse and milk jam for dessert. A handcrafted gin with fruit infusion will be served as an aperitif.
There are six events spread across two consecutive weekends between the end of September and beginning of October. More information and booking details about each day can be found here.
Events don’t get much better than Branch to Bottle. Spending the afternoon harvesting helped us to appreciate local produce. And dining under the Olive Trees in nature created an unbeatable and unique culinary experience. The experience only costs €80 for the day and considering the experience and feeling you will receive - you would probably be fine paying double.