Stratford: Come For The Theatre, Stay For The… errrr… Olive Oil?
When it comes to gratuitously punning store names Stratford is second only to Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood, and Olive Your Favourites nestled on York Street down by the River Avon, Stratford is certainly a worthy contender for 2012’s most-eye-rollingly-punning-food-retail-store-name award. However, interestingly enough behind the pun lies one of my new favourite hidden gems of Stratford.
Upon visiting her sister in Traverse City, Michigan, owner Michelle Hern came across a specialist store selling extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars. After thoroughly enjoying her purchases there she decided to get in touch with the store’s supplier with the idea of setting up a similar operation within Ontario.
Working in the field that I do I find myself inundated with so many oils and vinegars both collected from my travels and gifted from generous friends (many mediterranean wineries also happen to make olive oils as a sideline). Over the years I have come to appreciate the finer nuances of these artisianal products and now take pride in my modest collection of fresh olive oils and aged vinegars. With this in mind I was most excited to discover Michelle’s store upon my last visit to Stratford.
In so many gourmet food stores one is only able to taste the handful of olive oils that happen to be open for tasting upon that day. However at Olive Your Favourites both the oils and vinegars are stored in airtight stainless steel tanks so that one can sample every one of the store’s offerings from Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Australia, California, Chile, and Portugal… I could spend quite some time in this store.
Our personal favourites were the robustly floral Cobrancosa Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Portugal, the Eureka Whole Lemon Fruit Fused Olive Oil (amazing drizzled over fresh goat cheese), the delicious Pear White Balsamic Condimento (just a splash in some sparkling mineral water makes for a delightful summer drink), and finally the utterly amazing Japanese Toasted Sesame Oil, something that has been making a regular appearance on my soba noodles as of late.
The oils and vinegars are sold in 200ml bottles and we found them to be extremely reasonably priced, in fact if you go crazy and buy 10 bottles they’ll even throw one in for free!
I have already almost finished some of my recent purchases and so will have to revisit Olive Your Favourites again sometime in the coming weeks. Highly recommended.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he recommends that you ask Michelle about some of their “chance” blends…