Dobar dan! My name is Martin. I am Croatian, but I grew in Canada, in a quaint little village by the sea on the Pacific Northwest. In my spare time I like to read books and go shrimping. About a year ago I fell madly in love with my family's extra virgin olive oil from Dalmacija, Croatia while attending the annual village harvest. Since then, I've been drinking olive oil daily.
For the past year, I've put that liquid gold on just about everything, including my steak and seafood, my soup and bread. Believe it or not, it makes an excellent coffee creamer.
Nowadays, I've come to see that few are more obsessed with real oils than me. But for more than merely its sublime taste, I have come to deeply respect its heavenly graces. Olive oil truly is something else.
So I thought to myself, how could I share my family's little secret with the world? How could I help others taste the fruits of my selo by the sea?
In October, 2017 I quit my job as a software developer at an international pharmaceutical company in Prague. It was there that I met my friend Kyle. Just before leaving the city, one in which I'd come to call home after two long years, Kyle and I met up at one of my favorite Balkan restaurants. We chopped it up for hours, drinking rakija while talking business and living life abroad. We weren't aware of it then, but we were hovering at the edge of something quite profound that night. We launched Selo Oils 1 year later.
Anyway, it was November when I left that beautiful city in the heart of Europe, so I decided to head down to Croatia to visit my grandparents during the annual olive harvest before my return trip to Canada. I have been to Croatia many times but I had yet to ever participate in an olive harvest.
There was something mythical about it all, spending time amongst those ancient trees, those little wooden shrines that have housed and fed the peoples of that place, my selo and others, for millennia. I did not know it then but I would soon find myself deeply entwined with their long and branching history.
So I left half my clothes in the selo to make room in my suit case for 20 liters of the finest extra virgin olive oil I've ever tasted. When I returned home, I wrote a single blog post about my oils and shared it on Twitter. I sold out my luggage supply in a matter hours, and the rest is history.
Selo Oils is my family’s ultra premium extra virgin olive oil. It hails from the selo, which is the word for “village” in Croatian. My “selo” is located in the sunny windswept plains of Zadar County in Dalmatia, Croatia, a short 15 minute drive in-land from the Adriatic Sea. I guess you could say we are old fashioned. Although my grandparents had left Croatia long ago, and have spent most of their lives building houses in Canada, their hearts truly do lie in the selo. In fact, they are proud to call themselves Seljaks.
“Seljak” just means villager, but to my family, it means so much more. The Seljaci (pronounced sell-yahtzee) are a proud, characteristically stubborn, especially hard-working group of country folk that have lived along the Adriatic Sea in Dalmatia for over 1000 years, all the way back to the classical period of the Croatian Kingdom under Kralj Tomislav (King Thomas) in the 10th century.
King Thomas was the first King of Croatia. He became Duke of Croatia in 910, was elevated to kingship by 925 and reigned until 928. At the time of his rule Croatia forged an alliance with the Byzantines during their struggle with the Bulgarian Empire, with whom Croatia eventually went to war and which culminated in a decisive victory at the Battle of the Bosnian Highlands in 926. Since that bygone era, however, Croatians have been without a state to call their own, at least until the mid-1990’s.
It surprises most to know that Croatians have remained an ethnically and culturally distinct population within Europe for over 1000 years. How many other cultures in the world can claim such robustness? Not many. Though at the time of this writing, the modern Republic of Croatia is just 22 years old, the country people—the Seljaci—who have traditionally tended to the land, have been around for far longer…
Selo Oils celebrates this rich history and tradition of the Croatian country folk of the Dalmatian coastlands. In fact, our olive oil represents our family’s attempt to embody at least a glimmer of their timeless memory.
Our olive oil is a blend of three olive varieties that are indigenous to the Dalmatian coastal region along the Adriatic Sea. Those three varieties are Oblica, Drobnica and Levantika.
At harvest time, the olives come in a range of colors from light green to dark black. We know that they are ready because of their large size, with each olive growing to the size of an extra large gumball.
When the olives are ready, my immediate family and many of our friends get together to pull the olives from their branches. It is a fun and festive occasion that takes about a week in all to complete. Of course, we press the olives at the mill each and every evening, as soon as they're picked, to ensure optimal flavor profile and quality of nutrients.
We finish each day by feasting late into the evening, eating prosciutto, drinking wine and telling stories until it is time to rest.
This year’s harvest took place mid-November. The entire family, and many of our neighbors and friends, got together to hand pick olives from each of our 2000 trees. We sold most our stock domestically, but thought we'd take a leap of faith and deliver the rest of our special liquid gold to our friends in North America. Our finest extra virgin olive oil was first cold pressed and bottled just recently for your enjoyment. Dobar tek, and Živili!