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Olive Oil

Photo courtesy of Smabs Sputzer(CC Attribution)

     America is a great melting pot of culture, a country populated by generations of immigrants from all over the world. These people alongside their belongings, dreams and ambitions brought with them aspects of their native cultures that planted seeds of original Americana. For example, Tex-Mex is a culinary cross of traditional Mexican and Texan concepts that includes the introduction of hard shell tacos and fajitas. (also enormous amounts of melted cheese…and everything else!). 

     Nevertheless, let’s look at one of the more popular staples on the American dining strip. Everyone is familiar with ‘Italian’ and ‘Italian themed restaurants’, without ever having set foot in Italy and have likely been offered fresh bread with plated olive oil and vinegar. I am amongst the countless to whom this was an introduction to the intake of olive oil and vinegar as food. (Though, this too, is reputedly a strong Americanization of an Italian tradition). It was a rather delicious encounter and even before the opening of ‘The Olive Tap’, found myself choosing olive oil and especially balsamic vinegar for my own enjoyment on occasions. 

     What makes the pairing of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar so appealing? The fruity yet bitter taste of the olive, mildly peppery at best, blends well with the more acidic, but often sweet taste of the balsamic. Both already have complex flavor profiles and perhaps in print, it may seem like an odd combination. But our taste buds do not lie, and to throw in some warm, freshly sliced bread and it seals the deal!

 

Insalata Caprese

Photo courtesy of rpavich(CC Attribution)

     But surround yourself with unfamiliar territory and company, and you’ll begin to take on the characteristics around you like osmosis.

     So while olive oil bars with many distinctions have originated in Europe, the size of the United States has allowed a much more rapid rate of experimentation and growth and there are arguably more offerings of flavors of both olive oil and balsamic vinegars available stateside than our trans-Atlantic brethren.

     While the original idea of pairing olive oil and balsamic vinegar remains, the options you now have to choose from make the possibilities endless. Now we’ll take a moment to briefly go over a few of the many different pairing options available. 

Persian Lime Olive Oil with Orange White Balsamic 

A great versatile citrus based combination. Especially good with seafood dishes most reputably Salmon and Calabash Shrimp. May also be used in a sauteed vegetable melange or even as adventurous as a dairy-based dessert topping. 

Tuscan Herb Olive Oil and Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic 

A complex and flavorful duo based heavily on the Italian tradition. Basil, oregano, garlic and lemon flavors work together to make an appealing dressing to several pasta dishes or salads. One of the most popular and used combinations we have available. 

Smoky Bacon Olive Oil and Hickory Barbecue Balsamic Riserva

Seemingly made for North Carolina, this pairing features aromas associated with the grill. The bacon flavor may be used as a healthy substitute for actual pork and together they can really add to homemade beans, barbecue, and grilled meats. Often thought of as ‘masculine’ flavors, we urge everyone to give this combination a shot. 

Balsamic Vinegar

Photo courtesy of maxf(CC Attribution)

Additionally, olive oil and vinegar are often used as the base for making salad dressings in which the ratios are commonly

Marinades 1 part Olive Oil

                    1 part Balsamic Vinegar

Vinaigrette_ 2-3 parts Olive Oil

                    1 part Balsamic Vinegar. 

     In addition to great taste, this is also a tasty elixir for health. Olive oil is primarily composed of the desirable monounsaturated fats and balsamic vinegar, being made from grapes, is also full of antioxidants that promote good health. 

So come visit the south side of Charlotte, at our Ballantyne location we leave you to re-explore your own kitchen and natural creativity to find out what best flavors you enjoy!

REFERENCE LINKS

Italian Food Rules

Perfect Pairings

Olive Oil Tasting Bars

Match Made in Heaven: Pairing Olive Oil and Vinegar

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