Oro di Oliva photo by Peter DiAntoni
ORO DI OLIVA
Step One: Open a bottle of typical supermarket olive oil. Step Two: Take a sip. Step Three: Vow to never repeat Step Two again. Sample the wares at a premium olive oil shop, and there will be little comparison. The muted lack of complexity of the former will be replaced with the latter’s loads of body and flavor. That’s why premium oil devotees drop coin on quality.
Fundamental to the stores’ approach is encouraging people to taste the goods. Oro di Oliva stores its oils and vinegars in stainless-steel fusti – containers that protect the products from heat and light. A spigot on each makes it easy to sample. Oils are grouped from light to heavy and include extra-virgin olive, nut-based oils and flavored ones like blood orange, lemon and harissa. Vinegars include varieties of balsamic and white balsamic, and one barrel-aged red wine vinegar. 7606 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa, 414-256-8066; 338 E. Silver Spring Dr., 414-967-7357; Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St., 414-225-0005; orodioliva.com.
➺18-year balsamic vinegar
➺black truffle olive oil
➺basil olive oil
OLIVA DI VITA
In a bright storefront with a landscape wall mural, Oliva di Vita offers similar oils and vinegars (prices comparable to Oro di Oliva) with a few unusual choices, like cilantro- and onion-infused oil. Check the shop’s event calendar for tastings and cooking demos. 623 Genesee St., Delafield, 262-303-4292, olivadivita.com.
➺Milanese gremolata olive oil
➺Porcini mushroom oil
MAS DES BORIES
Nico and Roxanne Derni make olive oil in Provence under the name Mas des Bories. Native Frenchman Nico, former owner of the Elm Grove Inn, and his Wisconsin-born wife took over an established olive farm 10 years ago. The climate and soil in southern France is favorable for growing olives, and the Dernis have thrown themselves into the demanding work. (A feature about their post-Milwaukee lives appeared in the April 2009 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.) Their premium extra-virgin olive oils have won awards in France, a country with strict standards. You can cook meats or fish beautifully with these oils, but you’d miss the flavor nuances that come across when you use the oil in a vinaigrette or for dipping bread. The oils are available at Larry’s Brown Deer Market (8737 N. Deerwood Dr., 414-355-9650, larrysmarket.com), Pastiche Wines (second floor of 3001 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414-482-1950, pastichebistro.com) and at masdesbories.com. The Dernis make five kinds of oil, in several sizes. Larry’s sells the minis ($6) and half-liter bottles ($30).
➺AOC Provence (a velvety blend of the farm’s olives)
➺Bouteillan (fruity and light)