Oil and Vinegar

November 5, 2008

It wasn't until I lived in Italy that I truly learned to love and appreciate a good olive oil. Drizzled on tender butter lettuce salads with a pinch of salt, spooned over handmade pastas, dabbed on a chunk of rustic Tuscan bread, and I ashamedly admit, slathered all over myself in lieu of suntan oil. I was twenty, I wasn't thinking (but my skin sure looked damn good!). Now, many years older, I have nixed the use of olive oil as a tanning accelerant, but continue drizzling, spooning, and dabbing with molto gusto.

In Italy, early November is the time when olives will begin to be harvested for the first batch of olive oil. Gourmands around the world eagerly await this time of year for the season's new arrival. Now I like me some good fresh olive oil, but I was not about to hop on a jet and queue up with the rest of the oliophiles. So I went local and visited Oil & Vinegar in Bellevue, Washington.

This growing franchise offers a wide and impressive selection of beautiful imported oils and vinegars. Oil & Vinegar's product line also extends to an exclusive assortment of herbs and spices, pastas, appetizers, cooking tools, and more. Their gift sets are far from the predictable packaged sets because the product is so unique, like personalized oil and vinegar labels. Think Christmas, everyone!

What immediately caught my attention when I walked into Oil & Vinegar was their tap wall (pictured). A stunning display of glass vessels containing an array of olive, nut and seed oils, flavor infused oils and vinegars, as well as balsamic and wine vinegars. One of my favorites, a blood orange oil that nearly brought me to my knees it was so fresh and good.

As the gourmands begin their journey home from Italy carrying their precious cargo, I too, happily returned home with an armful of olive oils and vinegars. Fortunately for me, I didn't have to use mileage.

Check out our video interview with Matt Stermer, owner of the Oil & Vinegar franchise in the US.



EverydayfoodEmm's picture

I could drink good olive oil. you know what's interesting, in italy you want you're oil when it's first pressed to be bitter- and then it's supposed to mellow out in the bottle. Crazy, right? My mom just harvested her first batch of olive oil this year and had it pressed and graded and yet...I think I'm still inspired to go check out Oil and Vinegar...sounds like my kind of scene. Why don't we have this in new york? humbug.

Sheri Wetherell's picture

That's fabulous that your mom made her first batch of olive oil! I'm amazed, in awe...in fact, I bow down to her. Salute!

Matt Stermer's picture

Emma, we look forward to welcoming you to one of our stores! Oil & Vinegar franchises are located in Charlotteville VA, The Woodlands TX, Chicago Il, Missoula MT, and of course the shop here in Bellevue. We are looking for someone to open a franchised store in New York next year!

The stores will be offering a number of Olio Nuovo and Novello products in January...will be the closest to your mom's freshly pressed nectar!

Nina's picture

I am convinced that the Italians age as well as they do because of the olive oil, weather it is from eating it or slathering it on their bodies I don't know, but Boy we did look good with those olive oil tans didn't we?

Sea's picture

Ooh, that wall of olive oil looks beautiful. Bellevue is my hometown, and I had no idea... I'll have to try and find the shop the next time I'm in the area.


S. T. Jerome's picture

Can you please tell me which one is drizzled first: Oil or vinegar. I think vinegar so it will coat leaves and then the oil. If you do oil first then the vinegar won't stick. thank you.

Sheri Wetherell's picture

Hi S.T,

You actually want to gently coat the salad with oil first, then add your vinegar. This will prevent the lettuce from wilting too quickly, as would happen if you first added the vinegar, and also helps prevent over-acidification. For added flavor I sometimes rub a clove of garlic that's been sliced in half on the inside of my salad bowl before tossing in the lettuce. I then gently toss the lettuce and olive oil with clean bare hands, then add my vinaigrette and incorporate in the same manner. When you use your hands you are better able to control the amount of oil/vinegar you're using and are able to tell when your salad is evenly coated.

Hope that helps!
Cheers, Sheri