Have you noticed all the specialty olive oil stores lately?  I couldn’t help but walk past them and think, “Why would I go here to buy olive oil?  I can just get it at Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Costco… wherever.”

Well I have the answer, but I’m not going to divulge until you read a little further. 

Primo Oils & Vinegars hosted a lovely olive oil tasting last week for six lucky StyleBlueprint readers.  We had no idea what we were getting into before it started.  When the night ended, we all agreed that we had a great time and learned so much.  And collectively, we probably drank 20 shots of olive oil or vinegar a piece.  My skin has never been so supple.

Primo Oils & Vinegars sells 40 types of oils and vinegars.  The walls are lined with these vats. 

A dizzying selection of olive oils.

If you have ever been to a wine tasting or any sort of a wine education class, an olive oil tasting is very similar. You receive tastings of olive oil with a description of what you are drinking, where it is from and what you should be tasting. You smell it first and then drink it the first taste. After waiting a moment, you finish the taste with a second drink. The first taste coats the mouth, while the second taste is the “true” taste. We tasted everything from pepper to apples in these tastings. You take notes on the oils and then return later to pick out the ones you liked best. We all liked most of the same things.

First pour

Smell first, then…

Down the hatch.

Remains of the day.

These olive oils are called varietals. A varietal olive oil is like produce in season: different varietals are fresh at various times of the year. During the winter months, the freshest oils are from south of the equator, such as Australia. Right now, the freshest oils are coming in from Italy, California and other spots in the Northern Hemisphere. The type of olive oil you get at the grocery store is not a varietal, it is a blend. I would compare it to drinking a good wine versus drinking a blended table wine. So just like any fresh product, it has a shelf life (something I was not aware of).  These olive oils are good for only one year. This is the freshest olive oil on the market, and you can definitely taste the difference.

 

Primo Oils also carries vinegars. The thought of taking a shot of vinegar sent shivers down most of our spines. This went down like a taste of wine. So smooth, with so much flavor. Unlike the oils, a bottle of vinegar can last forever.

And now for the vinegar.

Well, Kay didn’t fare so well. He got the chokes on one of the shots. A little sparkling water made that all better. We tasted six vinegars.

Kay’s having a vinegar choking moment

Then the coup d’etat: homemade blueberry gelato, made with lemon olive oil and drizzled with blueberry balsamic vinegar. I broke my Lenten promise of no sweets for this one.  Sorry God, had to try it. Who has ever heard of putting vinegar on ice cream? People also put olive oil on their vanilla ice cream (with a pinch of salt).

 

Blueberry gelato made with Lemon Olive Oil, drizzled with Blueberry Balsamic on the top. I broke Lent for this one.

After the tasting, we all went over to the vats to try our favorites again or sample new ones. Beverly, the owner, was great about pairing olive oils with vinegars. Things you would never think of on your own:

Tangerine Balsamic and Blood Orange EVOO

Lavender Balsamic and Herbes de Provence EVOO

Raspberry Balsamic and Almond EVOO

 Lemon Balsamic and Mushroom Sage EVOO

Post-tasting, we decided to taste most of the room on our own. Here is Beverly, the owner, guiding us through the process.

This was interesting: use butter olive oil in the place of butter in your cooking and baking.

Butter EVOO–use in the place of butter for cooking. Who knew?

So the point of this olive oil is to be used as an ENHANCER, not something you fry your chicken in. Drizzle it on the top of a chicken breast. Use it in a salad. Drizzle on ice cream, vegetables, fruit.  As for the vinegars, the same applies. We even put a small amount of the fig balsamic in sparkling water like a mock cocktail.

Mission accomplished. Think I tasted most everything here. Hiccup.

Thank you to Primo Oils & Vinegars for a wonderful foray into the wide world of oils and vinegars.  They are located at 3628 Brownsboro Road (near the old Doll’s Market) and can be reached at 895-2656.