Time to check your oil

During our first visit to an olive oil tasting bar, we were handed a tiny paper cup and told to go ahead and try a sip of the olive oil inside. Really? Sip on olive oil? I couldn’t imagine sipping the olive oil we had at home.

This was the first time we tasted really great oil and we were so blown away. We’d always used EVOO to cook with and make salad dressings and pasta sauces. This didn’t taste anything like what was inside the trusty tin that sat in the cupboard above our stove. So what’s the deal? Why is it these two things which both claim to be “extra virgin olive oil” taste so different?

There are actually several possible reasons one olive oil might taste better than another, but freshness is likely the number one factor. Olive oil is essentially like a fruit juice. Unlike seed oils, it is pressed from a fresh fruit, and as it ages it loses quality and eventually gets stale. Many sources claim 12 months is the max shelf life for olive oil – and that’s 12 months from the crush date. So the clock starts ticking the moment that olive is pressed. Fresher oil not only tastes better, but over time it also loses all of the incredible health benefits we get from its antioxidents.

Unfortunately, most of the supermarket olive oils aren’t labelled with crush dates. While often the bottle might indicate an expiration date, that doesn’t tell us how old the oil inside really is. If you have an opportunity to taste fresh olive oil you probably won’t go back to buying expired stuff! The difference is really remarkable. If you’re wondering now how fresh that bottle in your cupboard is you should try having a sip!

No not oil and gas, oil and vinegar…

A lot of young Calgarians are keen to get into the oil biz in Calgary. So are we – but it’s not a career in oil and gas we’re after, it’s oil and vinegar.

When we tell our friends we’re going to sell olive oil and balsamic vinegar they look at us like we’re a little crazy. The response is often, “I don’t get it. Just olive oil and vinegar?” Someone asked me, “So will you have bread and cheese? Will people be able to make sandwiches?”

The concept is a bit difficult to grasp if you’ve never experienced an olive oil tasting bar and it’s particularly challenging if you’ve never tasted good olive oil. The first thing you need to know is that this is not the same EVOO you buy at your typical local supermarket. I had no idea olive oil could taste sooo amazing until I tried the real deal. I’ll save the explanation of what constitutes the “real deal” for another post ’cause that’s a whole other story.

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bars are popping up all over the US and now, lucky for us, the trend is beginning to cross the border into Canada. The “try before you buy” concept is pretty simple really. Stores are typically lined with 40-50 stainless steel vats called “fusti”. Customers are invited pour a sample of oil or vinegar directly from the fusti to sip or mix and dip with fresh bread. When they find their favorite, it’s bottled and corked right there in the store for them to take home.

We can’t wait to bring this concept to Calgary! It’s not only a super-fun way to spend some time with friends but the oils and vinegars we’ll offer are just so good. And we are looking forward to getting those friends who think we’re crazy to have a taste and realize we haven’t completely lost it!