Over the weekend, my daughter’s paternal grandparents came for a visit. During an outing, we came up on a store I’d passed by a hundred times but never ventured into–a boutique devoted exclusively to oils and vinegars. “Really,” I thought, “what could be any better than balsamic vinegar and olive oil?” Well, now I know! Vinegar may not be able tocatch flies, but it sure did keep me engaged for 30 minutes.
As we entered the shop, a large round table filled with small bowls awaited. Through the clear glass glistened shades of amber, berry, and olive. Dipping a small toothpick into the bowl only offered me what I thought would be a meager portion, but as I touched it to my tongue, favors blossomed inside my mouth. I imagine this is what Violet felt like in Willy Wonka as she chewed the three-course-meal chewing gum.
I could spend this entire posting describing each delectable choice. I dared not try every kind–I want an excuse to return! What I received for my Mother’s Day gift was a fruity elderberry/apple/lime vinegar and a citrusy lime riesling grapeseed oil. Needless to say, I could barely wait to open the bottles Sunday night and begin creating.
So what can you do with flavored oils and vinegars? Let me make a few suggestions:
- Be adventurous–pair combinations that sound exotic; the woman in the store had me try the vinegar I ended up with but mixed with a basil oil–it was spectacular.
- Try new pairings–While balsamic vinegar and olive oil are my standard, I will admit that the chard with the elderberry, apple, lime vinegar was even more flavorful–so much so, my teenage daughter stood over the pan and ate her share before sitting down for dinner.
- Use one without the other–I prefer the oils and/or vinegars to enhance food, not overwhelm it. If using flavored oils and vinegars, be aware that they will compete with the food if they are all very distinct in nature.
- Replace old standbys–at the shop, they actually had a chocolate vinegar that was like a thin cocoa syrup. I can’t wait to purchase that and try it on strawberries.
- Use as healthy substitutions–olive and grapeseed oil are filled with fatty acids that are much healthier than saturated fats; plus, a little flavored oil goes a long way
Needless to say, another blog post may focus on how to make such concoctions in the context of your own kitchen, but I will admit, what a pleasure to sit and enjoy the fruit of someone else’s labor–a great Mother’s Day present for sure!