51 Spartis Street, a few metres from Kalamata’s Municipal Market, is where you’ll find Trofopoleio 51 (Food Shop), a little shop that sells regional products.
There’s nothing about it that attracts the eye, at first. However, behind the display area with local products from small producers, such as extra virgin olive oil, the famous Kalamata olives, jams, chutneys, pickles, honeys, figs, pastelli (sesame bars), lalangia (fried dough ribbons) and local pastas, which are on show in the first room, lies a real workshop. Here you’ll find not only an area for tasting different olive oils, but also a fount of knowledge and experience about everything to do with the olive, the tree and its oil. Its owner, Georgios Vasilis Koutelas, a native of Kalamata, was young when he entered the family business of producing and selling olive oil, olives and other fats.
In 2009 he was one of 20 people who was selected (after passing an exam) to start up the tasting group of the Technical University of the Peloponnese where he served on a voluntary basis for eight years, learning and becoming an accredited taster of olive oil and table olives.
In 2012 he renovated the shop in Kalamata and turned it into a traditional grocer’s, renaming it at the same time.
In 2017 Trofopoleio 51 became the first private place in Kalamata for tasting extra virgin olive oil and table olives with samples from all over the world; it is open to anyone, specialist or not.
Giorgos is one of the founders of the Kalamata School of the Olive and Olive Oil, whose purpose is to train producers and quality assessors in the correct methods of cultivating, processing and promoting extra virgin olive oil, while insisting on educating consumers at the same time.
It’s worth visiting the Trofopoleio 51 to undergo the tasting experience and to meet one of the most serious and respected experts in everything there is to know about the olive.