|We’ve tasted hundreds of olive oils, and know that among the basic styles—mild, buttery, herbal, fruity, peppery, earthy—we like herbal and fruity flavors, but tend to avoid those cough-inducing peppery styles. Others may go straight for the pepper. But when you’re staring down a shelf of two dozen or more olive oils, you haven’t a clue as to which tastes like what. And you probably don’t have THE NIBBLE’s review of 90+ extra virgin olive oils with you. So, plunk down $15 or so, and hope for the best. But if you live in St. Louis, or other towns where olive oil tasting bars are popping up, you actually can try before you buy. Extra Virgin, an olive oil boutique that opened in October 2007, stocks 25 to 30 oils from Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Chile, Australia and the United States.
Now, you can try before you buy, and select the olive oil that pleases your particular palate.
|The oils range from light, fruity and delicate to pungent—and you can taste each one of them to decide your personal style, pumping an amount into a paper cup or plastic spoon (23 grams, or two tablespoons daily, may reduce the risk of coronary disease…and some of these oils are so delicious, you can drink them from a spoon like a treat if you don’t like to enjoy them on salad, pasta or vegetables). The store is the second career of a retired pathologist with an undergraduate degree in nutrition and food science, who understands the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil. She also saw, while taking an olive oil sensory evaluation course at the University of California-Davis, how much different olive oils can influence dishes, from boiled potatoes and white beans to chicken and beef. Located in Clayton, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb, the store also features bulk olives from Spain, Italy, Greece and France, related specialty foods (vinegars, tapenades, pasta sauces) and gifts with olive patterns and themes (aprons, potholders, candles). If you pass by Extra Virgin or any other olive oil boutique, do stop in—not only for your own edification, but to help these wonderful ventures thrive. Give gift certificates as as gifts. Don’t forget to check out Extra Virgin’s website. E-commerce isn’t up yet, but there are recipes for granola and lemon banana bread that use EVOO. (If you haven’t had rustic cakes made with olive oil, in the Italian and Greek fashion, they’re wonderful—especially with fresh herbs like basil, thyme or rosemary added to the batter.)
- See the different flavors of olive oil on TheNibble.com.
- See how the flavors and aromas come together with this olive oil wheel.
- Clarify specific terms in our olive oil glossary.
- Read about our favorite olive oils in the Oil & Vinegar Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
- Check out our mega-review of 90 extra virgin olive oils.