OEL is two Berliners, one great design and some award-winning olive oil.
Don’t tell the American army, but we’ve found oil in Berlin. OEL, to be exact – a two-man Extra Virgin Olive Oil company based out of Rosenthaler Platz. They are Mark Schmidt and Amadeus Tzamouranis, old Berliner school friends whose friendship and entrepreneurial zeal has led them to owning a 300-tree organically certified olive farm near Kalamata in the Peloponnese region of Greece.
We first noticed OEL at the Seafood Sundays events at Birgit und Bier. A rare-black canister planted on each table, the white silhouette of a woman sagely judging you like some banana republic dictator. That minimalist, industrial font. It is Berlin style through and through, something which has led OEL’s branding and packaging to win gold across most of the categories at this year’s LondonIOOC olive oil awards.
But OEL isn’t just pretty, it’s also hot. Spicy. Their cold-pressed olive oil from Koroneiki olives is so scharf that it would seriously disrupt any Ancient Greek orgy. Behind the smooth fruitiness hides a burn of pure black pepper which tingles minutes after you taste it. Reminiscent of schnapps or chewing tobacco, their olive oil transcends mere flavour and becomes narcotic. I just did a mini taste test with my mitbewohner and a few shot glasses of our Gut & Günstig and Bio olive oils later, we found that OEL’s heat kamikazied them into the water every time. The OEL was far superior in every way and cost just 2€ more than the supermarket olive oil.
From what started as a money-making scheme selling unmarked bottles of Greek olive oil to kids at their high school, OEL is now taking over Berlin’s exploding food scene. Their oil is available from fine food stores and farmers markets all over Berlin, plus used by some of Berlin’s Michelin-starred chefs in their kitchens and in other quality restaurants around Berlin. It’s poignant that OEL remains a very Berlin company – their Organically Certified status means most of the harvest and production work needs to be done by hand. This means that every December/January a team of Berliners travels to Greece and helps produce the next year’s crop of OEL.
I asked owner Mark what his favourite way to use OEL was. Like all good salespeople, he quickly answered: on its own with bread and salt. Pure. Then, after a minute, he says: actually… it makes really great cocktails.
Here’s one of Mark’s OEL cocktail recipe ideas:
Finish with Five Spice
Alle Zutaten in Shaker. Erst Dry-Shake, danach mit Eis. Doppelt Abseilen. Finish with Five Spice. Glas: Coupette.