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Monday, April 29, 2013

Olive oil and more--who knew?

I went to the most fascinating store today. It's called The Virgin Olive Oiler and, as you might suspect, it specializes in olives oils but it also has a wide selection of balsamic vinegars, sugars and salts. I was overwhelmed. The owner--and this is not a chain but a privately owned store--is knowledgeable and friendly. I didn't really browse but told him the gifts I wanted and who for and came away with an olive oil infused with herbs de Provence, another with Tuscan herbs, an 18-year-old dark balsamic traditional vinegar, and a butter infused olive oil.
I told him that the friend who lives in my garage apartment is dairy-free and although we don't often eat together occasionally I sauté vegetables in butter and then regret that I can't share. He carefully gave me a card explaining that no items in his store come from animal products--he has a large vegan trade--and the butter olive oil, while it tastes like butter, is dairy free. And aside from sautéing, you can use it almost any place you'd use real butter--over baked potatoes, in baking, over everything from popcorn to pasta, to dip bread in, and a bunch of other things. Use your imagination.
The oils fascinated me--truffle infused, mushroom, roasted almond, sesame, French walnut, chipotle, cilantro and roasted onion, green chili. Apparently a California garlic oil is his best-seller.
I'm not as big a fan of balsamic vinegars, but I suspect if I hung around there I would be. The bestseller is the 18-year-old one I bought but the dark also come in black currant, blueberry, cinnamon-pecan, and even chocolate. White balsamics have fruity flavors from pineapple and mango to coconut and peach. One of the premium vinegars is a pinot noir one.
An entire wall of salts intrigued me because I'd just bought chocolate sea salt in Hawaii--can  you imagine that on a grilled steak? Like a subtle mole sauce. The store didn't have that but did have a dark red Hawaiian sea salt. Almost all of the salts were from the sea--black truffle, chipotle, wild porcini, vanilla bean and others. And there was a bread-dipping seasoning--my kids brought some of that back from France nine years ago and we loved it.
The pure cane sugars also come in a variety of flavors. I liked the idea of espresso, lime, and lemon. Not so sure I want to try habanero.
The Virgin Olive Oiler offers shipping anywhere in the continental United States, and their website has recipes. Check it out at I haven't had such a fascinating shopping trip in a long time, and now I'm ready to experiment in cooking.

1 comment:

  1. I love this store! A couple of months ago I had a tasting party for some friends. We went to the store after hours, and the owner, Charles, made hors d'oeuvres for us with the products in the store. He spent a while telling us all about olive oil - its history, how it is used medicinally in some cultures, what the difference is in the various kinds. Then we wandered around and tasted everything. It was the most fun! And I have to concur the the butter olive oil is just fabulous. I also love the cranberry pear white balsamic vinegar. So glad to see you talk about the store!