In the course of an afternoon of much-needed shopping with my husband — an activity that neither of us enjoys much — we happened upon the Con' Olio Oils & Vinegars shop at the Arboretum. The quiet, cool space seemed like a sanctuary from the oppressive heat outside and was full of unexpected delights. We got lost in here for at least an hour like kids in a candy store.
The space is lined with shelves of shining stainless steel Fusti canisters with spigots for easy sampling. You can taste award-winning extra virgin and infused extra virgin olive oils from all over the world — Italy, Greece, Australia, California... Below each canister are little cups for sampling and even crackers and fresh bread. I started out sampling one here and one there and then eventually realized I would have to go back to the beginning and try them all.
I would have been happy to bring home a bottle of each of the straight up olive oils, but was most intrigued with their infusions. Flavors include blood orange, garlic, chipotle, cilantro and roasted onion, harissa, Persian lime, lemon, truffle, and my favorite, wild mushroom and sage. I'll be going back for that one in the fall. I have dreams of polenta piled high with roasted mushrooms and splashed with this oil. It tasted quintessentially of fall.
The shop also offers just as many balsamic vinegars, some with infusions, to sample. Flavors include strawberry, cinnamon pear, chocolate, tangerine, blueberry, fig, pineapple, peach, and vanilla. Sadly, the vanilla was the one I most wanted to taste, but they were out of stock. I look forward to going back to try it.
Once you've tried and tasted and narrowed down your selections, the staff will fill a bottle for you on the spot. 200ml sample bottles are available for $12.95 or 4 for $9.95 each. Full bottles are 375ml and go for $16.95.
We went in wanting to pick out one oil or vinegar to try but had too hard a time narrowing our choices, so we took advantage of the sample pack and got four flavors — pineapple, red apple, and black currant-infused balsamics and a Persian lime-infused olive oil.
I can't wait to try the vinegars on fresh, summer salads for a burst of flavor. The pineapple will be great with this salad. And we've already sampled the lime olive oil on this pasta.
I'm thinking these products will make tasty holiday gift treats for friends (and ourselves).
Con' Olio is also available for private tastings, food and wine pairing parties or dinners in their pretty space.
In the Arboretum (a few doors down from Barnes & Noble)