We are charmed by The Mighty Olive. Memphis is one of the best food and restaurant locations in the country, so it is not surprising that an upscale presentation of olive oils and vinegars has found a home in our city!
The Mighty Olive sells ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world as well as gourmet salts, spices and other epicurean specialty items. They are the first olive oil store in Memphis, and they are bringing the finest extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars to you in their new Laurelwood Collection shop.
The owners, Carol and Sam Braslow, told us the surprising story of how quickly they fell in love with, researched and opened The Mighty Olive … in less than one year! While travelling in spring 2013, Carol and Sam discovered the Bodacious Olive, a shop in Pensacola, Florida, that features artisanal olive oil, infused balsamic vinegars, special salts and gourmet seasonings. They decided Memphis needed a similar outlet for exploring the health and flavor benefits of cooking with high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The Mighty Olive opened in November 2013 … about six months after their visit to the Bodacious Olive!
Carol brings multitasking business savvy learned from her former position as a corporate director of purchasing for the Peabody Hotel Group, and in 2011 Sam sold A. Schwab, the oldest store in the Mid-South. A. Schwab downtown had been in Sam’s family for 136 years! He brings the authenticity and customer service of the well-known A. Schwab experience to his new venture, The Mighty Olive. Also on their knowledgeable staff: Mary Ann Bamrick, manager, and associate Donnell Landrum.
All Olive Oils and Vinegars Are Not Created Equal
At The Mighty Olive, you can sample and compare all 50 varieties before you buy. One taste, and you will realize the vast difference from what you have been settling for on grocery store shelves. There is no comparison. The Mighty Olive sells extra virgin olive oil, more specifically: single variety olive oils, fused and infused olive oils—all of the highest caliber and nutrition value available. Fused and infused olive oils are ideal for cooking because rich flavors are already part of the oils.
The shop’s vinegars are also the highest in quality. All vinegars are solera aged up to 18 years, and the sherry is solera aged up to 35 years. (A solera is the set of barrels or other containers used in the aging process.) In layman terms, this means they are top-of-the-line.
“’Extra virgin’ is the key to all flavor and value when it comes to olive oil,” Sam explains. Here are a few definitions from Olive Oil Times that helped me understand why flavors at The Mighty Olive are so distinctive from lower-quality oils:
Unrefined Olive Oils: Unrefined olive oils do not undergo chemical refining. In unrefined olive oils, such as “extra virgin” and “virgin” olive oils, the process goes no further than extraction and bottling. Producers of unrefined olive oils need to use fruit that is in good condition and carefully manage various factors, because the oil will not be treated to chemically hide bad tastes that would result from oxidized olives or some other contamination.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: An unrefined olive oil that exhibits nice fruity flavors, has no taste “defects” and meets certain benchmarks in its chemical composition can be called “extra virgin.” In extra virgin olive oils, the tastes of the fruit is intact, and its quality reflects the great care along the entire production process. Extra virgin olive oils have higher amounts of nutrients and therefore provide greater health benefits.
It’s Healthy Too!
Have you heard about the Mediterranean Diet? Do you know what one of the main ingredients for this healthy eating plan is? You guessed it … nutrient-rich olive oil (aka, the kind they sell at The Mighty Olive). Here is what the Mayo Clinic has to say about the Mediterranean Diet:
If you’re looking for a heart-healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet might be right for you. The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating—plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps even a glass of red wine—among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Read more here: mayoclinic.org
The Mediterranean Diet and, in turn, olive oil are also pivotal to the Pink Ribbon Diet. The Pink Ribbon Diet plan features 150 recipes that naturally emphasize Mediterranean foods with nutrients thought to lower breast-cancer risk.
And if you want to learn more about the world of olive oil in a story about globalization, deception and even crime, read Tom Mueller’s Extra Virginity, an explosive narrative about the history of this fascinating ingredient. These books, and many more, including recipe books that help you navigate the many opportunities for cooking with olive oil and vinegar, are available at The Mighty Olive.
Did You Know?
Olive oil and vinegar are great dessert ingredients? Carol prepared a bowl of ice cream with Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar on top for us to try (delicious! really!) Let me put it this way, I bought a big, not small, bottle of Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar to take home.
Every bottle at this shop is filled from the larger containers and then sealed individually by Carol and her staff with an interesting heat source: a simple hair dryer! It was fun to see just how they get all of those bottles ready for the next day’s customers.
Shopping at The Mighty Olive
Thank you, Carol, for taking us on a tour of the shop. Here are a few things we saw during our visit to The Mighty Olive:
Three Don’t-Miss Events
1. Wine Down at the Dixon: wine tastings, music, hors d’oeuvres, art and stunning gardens at Dixon Gallery and Gardens. $25 for members; $35 for non-members. Wine Down takes place on Friday, January 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. The Mighty Olive will be there with pairings of olive oil and vinegar to enjoy. Buy tickets here: dixon.org
2. On Valentine’s Day from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m., stop by The Mighty Olive to taste desserts made with olive oils and vinegars. Simply let them know you are coming and they will have plenty for everyone.
3. Learn to make your own dessert with olive oil and vinegar in a workshop at The Mighty Olive led by a chef from L’École Culinaire on February 22 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Follow The Mighty Olive on Facebook to learn more about this event and other workshops throughout the year.
We highly recommend stopping by The Mighty Olive … Magnifico! themightyolive.com