I love tasting new discoveries. Food, chocolate, wine…you name it. So it was with great excitement that I walked through the doorway of a brand new Ottawa business today, with tastebuds tingling in anticipation. Emulsify, the Olive Oil and Vinegar Experience, is a welcome addition to Ottawa’s Epicurean Row (or Culinary Mile, as some prefer to call it…personally, I like the moniker Luscious Lane) – the foodies’ playground along Wellington Street West that now extends from Hintonburg to Westboro.
Co-owners Jesseka Blom and Chris DeRuiter were proud to show me their shiny new shop, filled with dozens of fusti – gleaming stainless steel vessels with spigots to store and dispense their hand-selected olive oils and balsamic vinegars. While some are available pre-bottled, it’s a lot more fun to taste a few and make your choices then watch while the bottles are filled before your eyes.
Jesseka explained that the process for tasting oils and vinegars is essentially the same as for wine. “You want to hold the cup in the palm of your hand for a moment, to warm it slightly. Then inhale to enjoy the aroma; it will change a little bit as the oil or vinegar is exposed to the air. Swirl it a little and admire the gorgeous colour. Next, slurp down the half-teaspoon sized serving and savour the flavour on your palate.” She recommends only tasting three to five samples at any one time. “After that you really can’t taste properly and you won’t remember the distinctive flavour profile.”
I tried two olive oils. First up was a sundried tomato and parmesan that was so flavourful and fragrant, I’d be tempted to pour it over hot pasta with no additional toppings required. The chipotle olive oil was rich, smoky-sweet with a nice kick of spice as an afterthought. But it was the balsamic vinegars that really knocked my socks off. I adored the impossibly delicious chocolate and the complex, satisfying espresso and would love to serve either one drizzled over some good vanilla ice cream. The smoked balsamic was another hit – it would be the perfect finishing drizzle to just about any meat or fish dish.
Both passionate cooks, Jesseka and Chris are very capable at suggesting uses for their many oils and vinegars and can help you put together a set of eight mini tasting bottles as a perfect gift for the food aficionado in your life. I can’t wait to go back for my next tasting!