When my husband and I traveled to Sonoma, CA for … what else … winery tours, we stumbled upon a small roadside shop that sold a variety of flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars. When we went in to check it out, we discovered that wine tastings weren’t the only sampling we would do. This place had oils and vinegars “on tap”! Now, I was expecting bread for dipping but that isn’t how it’s done … you just get a small amount in a little cup and let your taste buds do the choosing.
Not a lot of olive groves in Iowa but specialty food shops are popping up all over. Today I visited “The Olive Tap” in Ankeny, IA, expecting to fully enjoy sampling and choosing a few to add variety to my vinaigrettes and roasted veggies. What I didn’t expect was to spend about 45 minutes talking all things food with the owner, Lance. He pointed out his best sellers and personal favorites and had ideas on ways to enjoy each one (ever heard of adding a flavored vinegar to ice tea? I will be trying the pear.).
As you can see in the picture above, I struggled to choose. What can I say … I like variety! I can’t wait to experiment with them and share my successes (and failures … might as well share what NOT to do) with you. The Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar is the one that has peaked my curiosity the most. Sounds weird, I know. As I sampled it, Lance said “Try it drizzled on strawberries.” SOLD.
There are many reasons to visit this shop:
- Go on a foodventure.
- Learn how to make a personalized vinaigrette … just ask for help!
- Unique gift ideas … a jar of the Dark Chocolate, a basket of strawberries and a bottle of wine … a jar of the Tuscan Herb Olive Oil, a loaf of crusty bread and a bottle of wine … a jar of the Cranberry Walnut Balsamic Vinegar, a wheel of Brie and a bottle of wine …
What? Too much wine? Isn’t that how I discovered this whole new foodie world in the first place? Be adventurous … try something new!
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