Saturday, June 22, 2013

Olive That! Tasting Bar - Whitby, Ontario

If you haven't been to an olive oil tasting bar (read: THIS olive oil tasting bar!) then it's about time! As a foodie I thought I knew everything there was to know about EVOO but what I sampled, smelled and learned today has forever changed the way I think about olive oil! 

Val & Tony Vagopoulos , the lovely owners of Olive That, in Whitby Ontario were so gracious in welcoming me to their beautiful Artisinal shop today.  To my surprise Val had also laid out a tasting tray for us, think of it as a mini crash course of a few of her extensive varieties of delicious fresh, fragrant, and fruity olive oils as well as a couple of balsamic vinegars. As I warmed the little cups of oil between my palms, sipped and slurped just as she instructed I listened attentively to her speak passionately about her love of olive oil. 

Olive That is a tasting bar, that means you can taste everything on site, just grab a cup from the stacks of mini cups found at an arm's reach throughout the store, or maybe a little cube of fresh bread in the beautiful jars then help yourself to a tasting of fresh olive juice from the stainless steel vessels in which each oil is carefully stored in protecting it from the elements.

This afternoon as I made my way around the store tasting many of the different varieties of olive oils as well as infused olive oils, one of the things I took note of was that regardless of pungency or infused notes of flavour they all share a similar attribute of being surprisingly "light" and by that I mean very delicate in the mouth, contrary to the "other" stuff labeled as (Extra Virgin Olive oil) which is heavy, greasy and all you're left with is this viscous mouthful. I'm told this is how olive oil (or olive juice!) should very much be like.

I've been fortunate to have learned over the last couple of weeks and also reminded of today how olive oil is a delicate juice that does indeed have a shelf life,  which as I'm told is between 6-8 months. Only through having access to vital information like the crush date will you be able to estimate the freshness of your olive oil and enjoy it in the best possible form. This really make you rethink the freshness of supermarket olive oils or those bottles sitting around forever in dusty gourmet shops.

Along with the sensory test through sampling the wonderful olive oils and allowing the mouth to detect those fruity and herbaceous notes ending in that peppery finish at the back of the throat the owners of Olive That pride themselves in providing detailed scientific information about every batch of olive oil in their store, you'll see the little laminated cards on the front of each stainless steel vessel and the staff are always more than happy to explain what the numbers mean. 

We're so fortunate to have Olive That in the heart of Durham (as well as a second location in downtown Unionville) for all of us to enjoy from the general Toronto, and surrounding areas!

Oh and while you're there don't forget to check out the divine assortment of balsamic vinegars! I couldn't resist walking away without the 18 year old traditional, aged espresso, and aged maple balsamic ..  next time I'm going for the white!

And for my readers who know me so well by now, you guessed it!!  .. There will be recipes to follow, very soon! 

No comments: