Gourmet Olive Oil Shop

Drizzled in Flavours

Gourmet Olive Oil Shop Drizzled in Flavours

Gourmet Olive Oil Shop Drizzled in Flavours

EDMONTON – Here’s how to avoid feeling overwhelmed when you walk into Evoolution, a new gourmet olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop that’s opened on 104th Street, just off of Jasper Avenue.

Don’t think of it as a store with dozens of different kinds of balsamic vinegar and olive oils with which to prepare everything from brownies to salad dressings. Think of it as a tasting bar, with a menu of flavours to browse and sample, and a knowledgeable interpreter to gently lead you through the grove. Don’t be embarrassed to sniff and slurp the oils and the vinegars, and to greedily dip the fresh pieces of bread that are provided for your sampling pleasure.

“Not only should you taste, we encourage it,” says that interpreter, Matthew Mills, your oil and vinegar tour guide at Evoolution. “In fact, you can taste them all and find the one that matches your palate.”

Open for about a month, Evoolution is a big step for little Edmonton. It’s ultracool (15-gallon stainless steel containers of the products, called fustis, lend an industrial gleam to the place) and at the same time, extremely useful. Infused olive oils, rich with the scent of fresh basil, or wild mushroom and sage, are a quick and easy way to add punch to marinades, or to simply drizzle over a plate of pasta. But the fun, and the joy, is to mix the oils with the high-end balsamic vinegars that make up the other half of the stock at Evoolution.

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If you wonder where the store’s name comes from, the first four letters of Evoolution are an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Learning how to do that is what makes a trip to Evoolution more than a shopping expedition. It’s an education, and a creative experience.

When tasters enter the store, Mills or the other staff will spend a moment or two describing the wares, starting with the “varietals.” These are oils that are made from specific kinds of olives that, like grapes, contain different natural chemicals and enzymes linked to their flavour and health properties.

The supplier for Evoolution, Veronica Foods of California, insists that all the olive oils in its line come from fruit crushed within four hours of picking, maximizing the quality of the oil. Each oil in the store is marked with a “crush date” ­— the month and year in which the olives were squeezed. The oldest oil in the shop on the day I visited was crushed in October 2011; Mills says olive oil will last in a cool, dark place for 12 to 18 months.

If that’s all the information you want, that’s all Mills will present. But if your curiosity is picqued, Mills will spend some time introducing you to the fused and infused oils.

Fused oils, such as blood orange or Persian lime, are crushed with extra ingredients, such as orange peels or Tuscan herbs. The infused oils are mixed with other ingredients, such as basil, garlic or chipotle, after crushing. Mills offers shoppers the chance to dip morsels of bread into the oils, and to ponder the differences between an Italian varietal such as Arbequina (grassy, with creamy banana overtones) and an organic pick from Tunisia called Chemlali, (fruity, with notes of strawberry and banana).

If that’s not enough to awaken your palate, take a walk on the wild side (one aisle over), where dark and white balsamic vinegars are on display. There are the sweet balsamics, such as raspberry and red apple, and the more savoury flavours, including juniper and fig.

Here’s where the play begins. Looking for a way to perk up a sip of club soda in the summer? Try a shot of cranberry pear balsamic (it’s nearly calorie-free). Juniper balsamic will add fresh spank to your martini. A dark chocolate balsamic mixed with infused basil oil, Dijon mustard and garlic, gets dinner guests excited about butter lettuce all over again.

All the olive oils and the balsamic vinegars at Evoolution are the same price, starting at $12 for 200 millilitres, so patrons can afford to have some fun with the product without fear of it going bad before it can be used up.

Pomegranate Flank Steak Marinade

This recipe was created by Matthew Mills’s wife, Lisa Basham, a trained chef. It makes enough marinade for four to six flank steaks.

  • 4 flank steaks
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) Evoolution pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (25 mL) Evoolution extra virgin olive oil (a robust variety with a high smoke point will work best)
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons (25 mL) low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) brown sugar
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix all marinade ingredients except salt and pepper, and place along with steaks in a zipped plastic bag. Marinate in fridge for at least five hours, or overnight. Remove steak and pat dry. Reserve marinade. Place steaks on a hot grill and cook until rare to medium rare. Place marinade in a sauce pan and reduce to 1/2 to 1/3 original volume over medium heat. When steaks come off the grill, spoon some of the reduced marinade over and rest under tin foil for 5 to 7 minutes. Cut against the grain, finish with sea salt and pepper if desired, and serve in fajitas, wraps, on a fresh salad or on their own.

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Source: Edmonton Journal
By Liane Faulder (twitter.com/eatmywordsblog)