Leaside’s new family owned Olive Oil Emporium has over 50 extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars on tap.
Their selection, which can all be sampled in store at Bayview Avenue near Hillsdale Avenue E., is bottled only after customers select the kind they want to take home.
“Olive oil is a fruit juice so it shouldn’t taste oily, it shouldn’t taste greasy,” says Andreas Voulgaris, who owns the store along with his wife Mary. “It should taste fresh and of the fruit that it’s from. It shouldn’t taste like a cooking fat, like a greasy heavy fatty substance, it should be pronounced and that’s what people appreciate when they try any one of these side by side.”
The shop carries olive oils from both hemispheres in order to offer the freshest oils from Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Chile, Australia, Portugal and California.
“New oil, old wine, is the expression,” Andreas says. “You don’t want to age your olive oil.”
While harvest in the southern hemisphere is in May and June, it takes place in October, November and December in the north, he says.
“I think the biggest component to our store is the education part of the product,” Mary adds. “Our main thing is for people to take away that it is a live product and it is something that you can really have fun with. You can change your meal with such a small ingredient.”
In the coming month, they plan to hold workshops and seminars about the different varietals, which can range in flavour profiles from grassy to fruity and from mild to intense.
“It’s a matter of finding what you think you’ll be most comfortable with and what you think you’re going to get better use out of,” he says, adding an oil like the Arbequina works well with a variety of dishes since it’s not overly intense or too delicate whereas an oil like the robust Coratina is great for drizzling over a rich pasta.
“The fun part about this is that there is something for everyone and we really believe in the product and it speaks for itself when people are willing to come in and try and explore the possibilities that are out there.”
In addition to the oils, they also offer spreads, olive leaf tea and a large selection of both white and dark balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy. As for the vinegars, the best seller is the classic, which can be aged up to 18 years. When it comes to olive oil however, it’s much more subjective and difficult to narrow down, he says.
“When people are sampling you can see the gears turning in how they are picking up the different flavours and trying to process the profile,” he says. “You can see that they’re really thinking, ‘How can I use this? This is going to be amazing with this particular recipe’ or sometimes it inspires them to create something totally different.”
About this article: