On a recent visit to the Chicago area to see Mom, we took a small shopping trip (like that was a surprise) to the small village of Long Grove in northwest Illinois http://www.longgroveonline.com. For those of you who have not heard of Long Grove, it is comprised of many different boutiques, galleries, restaurants and shops. You can find anything from old-fashioned penny candy in the “Ma & Pa Candy Store”, homemade apple fritters from the “Apple Haus”, and excellent food from their many restaurants. We had a wonderful day there taking in the sites and gorgeous fall weather.
One shop, however, stood out on this day. I had my first experience in an olive oil and balsamic vinegar store. The Olive Tap, http://theolivetap.com/ , had so many urns of olive oils and vinegars, my head began to spin. If you don’t believe me, ask the rest of our group. I was, literally, like a kid in a candy shop. Who would have thought one person could spend just shy of an hour sampling oils and vinegars.
My main focus was on the balsamic vinegars. I am sure you have all tried some form of balsamic vinegar at one time or another but these were incredible. Each urn had a small stack of shot glasses for sampling. I must have tried at least 15 different kinds. Some of my favorites included Black Current, Blueberry, Coconut, Fig, Peach, Pineapple and I could go on. Each one was just a bit better than the one before. The ultimate, though, was the 18-year old traditional. This vinegar was so smooth. It had none of the bite one might expect. I was able to drink almost a whole shot glass full.
The salesperson, seeing me stopping at every urn, came over and asked if I would be interested in trying the different pairings of flavored olive oils and vinegars. She began to mix, as a chemist would, the different combinations. She made one using blood orange olive oil and tangerine balsamic to create what tasted like an “Orange Pushup”, blood orange olive oil and blueberry balsamic to create “Uniquely Blueberry,” and roasted sesame oil with pineapple balsamic to create “Roasted Pineapple.” I could go on forever, so I will just attach the link for their pairings http://www.theolivetap.com/news/pairings.php .
What an experience! After doing some research on the internet, I have found several stores similar in nature. For any foodie that has not visited a store like this, my only comment is “GO!” You won’t be sorry! Kevin and I took my mom up to Door County in Wisconsin over the Thanksgiving weekend and found another store named “The Door County Olive Oil Company” found at http://www.dcoliveoil.com/ . So, with a bit of exploration, stores such as these are scattered all over our great land.