Foodie alert: New Olive & Vine at CityCentre is an oil lover's delight
When I first heard there was a specialty olive oil store opening in CityCentre, I was a bit confused. I pictured the olive oil and vinegar aisle at Central Market or Whole Foods, with shelves full of assorted bottles with confusing differentiations and ever-higher price tags.
But Olive & Vine is all about showing off what an impact this afterthought ingredient can make. There's not a bottle in the place — not a filled one, at least — but instead two neat rows of 36 olive oils and vinegars in stainless steel containers called fustis line the walls, all ready for sampling.
The different types of oil are marked like wines with the name, country of origin, and amount of polyphenols (that's the compound that makes olive oil so healthy and gives it the slightly bitter, olive-y strength), plus a flavor profile and suggestions for pairings, both among foods and other oils.
If you can't imagine the difference between two extra virgin olive oils, you're going to leave with your mind blown.
There's the light, buttery, even slightly fruity Arbequina, the grassy Cerasuola, and the intense bitterness of Piqual. That's before you get into the infused versions, with everything from basil to a French bouquet of herbs (think lavender) and a spicy chipotle.
Among the vinegars, the Tradional Balsamico Condimento is sweeter than any balsamic vinegar I've ever tasted. It's harvested from the same produce and made in the same process as Italy's famed Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena. It's a premium product licensed and regulated by the government (like Prociutto di Parma or Parmegiano-Regiano). But without official designation, the Olive & Vine version sells for about one twentieth of the price.
And then there are the infused versions, with everything from fig to peach (another favorite) to cinnamon apple. (We hear the neighboring Ruggles Green chef has already snapped up the chocolate vinegar for a salad.)
Tasting the flavors, it seems impossible that these are just oil — they immediately call to mind a dish. The Persian lime olive oil calls out for Margarita chicken, the mushroom garlic olive oil belongs on a marsala dish, and the strawberry balsamic vinegar conjured images of a baby spinach salad with feta and walnuts.
These may be premium oils, but because owners Susan and Wayde Burt work directly with the importer, they're often cheaper than the high-end grocery store brands. A 200 ml bottle of any oil is $9.95, and it's filled and sealed fresh before your eyes. That's not bad at all. Frankly, I never thought I'd be the type to get into gourmet olive oils. But I tried it, and I'm into it, and I'm pretty happy to be proven wrong.