Last month I dropped into The Tasteful Olive, just one of the recent outcroppings of gourmet olive oil and vinegar stores that have popped up around the city. At first I was confused; the place looked sparse. All I saw was row upon row of stainless steel spigotted cisterns and empty bottles. After a brief discussion with one of the staff though, my pulse started to race. Unbeknownst to me, I had just entered a healthy taste-testers paradise!
With eyes wide, I counted more than 60 different naturally flavored and infused balsamic vinegar and gourmet oils. Foodie that I am, I tasted my way through the basic balsamic vinegars first: lemon, strawberry, basil and the like; and then the more unusual concoctions of jalapeno, fig and espresso. YUM!
Next up, the olive oils: garlic, Tuscan herb, blood orange, chipotle (one word: wow) and harissa just to name a few. I selected a variety and raced home with my booty.
Back in my kitchen, I felt like Dr. Frankenstein. A marinade of Persian lime oil and jalapeno vinegar brought my fajitas alive! Veggies danced around my wok with garlic oil and honey-ginger vinegar as partners. The more sophisticated scallops simply basked in a lemon Sicilian balsamic vinegar glaze.
This was too much fun! Next up, salads. Equal parts of chocolate vinegar and almond oil created the most magnificent dressing for an otherwise boring spinach salad. And OMG, the blood orange/raspberry combo made my toes curl. The possibilities were endless.
A shot of each in a smoothie made for soft skin and good digestion. Oh, and to wash it all down—any flavor balsamic vinegar splashed in club soda was thirst quenching and absolutely refreshing. I would never again crave soda!
Besides adding a ton of sex appeal to my weekly menus, I discovered that my two new-found friends were also good for you. No kidding! Here are just a few of the facts: Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat (one of the good guys), and is chock full of blood pressure reducing antioxidants and is loaded with vitamin E.
Balsamic vinegar is no slacker either. It helps fight against diabetes, obesity, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Both olive oil and balsamic vinegar are cancer fighters and have been found to slow the aging process. Together, these two are like the Batman and Robin of the food world.
Don’t be intimidated if you are a novice cook; these gourmet balsamic vinegars and oils are easy to use, add depth and flavor to your ingredients and—bonus!—it’s all without adding a lot of extra work or calories. They fit the bill perfectly for what we are trying to promote here at FBE: good tasting and good for you.
It’s a win/win! Tell us: what are a few of your favorite flavored olive oil and balsamic vinegar creations? —Karen