In the age of McGlobalization, olives (the processed, pickled fruit of the olive shrub) have become omnipresent (though mainly as a garnish to iceberg lettuce).

"/>

Side Dish

Oiling up

In the age of McGlobalization, olives (the processed, pickled fruit of the olive shrub) have become omnipresent (though mainly as a garnish to iceberg lettuce). But for most Northern Europeans and Americans, there's still something a little exotic about olive oil: We know it's supposed to be healthy and the epitome of culinary cool, but many who can sling the slang about semolina, ch趲e, and St. Emilion don't feel secure in choosing, using, and storing olive oil—let alone understand the difference between French and Spanish oils, from arbequina vs. manzanilla olives. The uncertainty extends to many of the gourmet shops and boutique supermarkets that sell the stuff. I recently asked a clerk's advice about which of the two dozen oils on his store's shelves I should use in composing a homemade mayonnaise, and ended up throwing away a quart or so of some of the nastiest-tasting yellow goo I've ever encountered. A lot of retailers get around the variety problem by not offering much, if any; many wineshops and culinary equipment companies stock one or two tried-and-true brands only. Mail-order outfits like Chefshop.com taste, evaluate, and stock dozens of top-echelon oils, but you still can't send a sample sip by e-mail. Enter the specialists: On Friday in Pacific Place, just feet from the portals of Tiffany & Co., opens O&Co., the fast-growing U.S. arm of Oliviers & Co., based among the sun-baked, windswept, C麡nne-immortalized hills of Haute Provence. Even among niche retailers, O&Co. is niche: The company offers only about two dozen oils, selected from olive orchards from Spain to Israel, France to Tunisia, Croatia to Greece according to the company tasters' judgment of the best "vintages" available. Check out the 16.8 oz. canister of Chateau de Montfrin 2001, for example. You'll learn that it's made in the French d鰡rtment of Gard; that it's recommended for use in fish dishes, on asparagus, and in desserts; that its tasting notes include hazelnut and dried grass; and that the nearby chateau "dated back for the 17th century." If you go in for this sort of thing, you've nearly got your 28 bucks worth before you pop the top on the can. But the big advantage of a shop like O&Co. is the opportunity to sample and compare before you buy. I just wish it had been open before I made that mayonnaise. rdowney@seattleweekly.com

 
comments powered by Disqus