Oli + Ve, Vinings GA

This is Marie, contributing an article about specialty oil and vinegar from Oli + Ve (pronounced Ollie and Vee), http://www.oliandve.com/ There is no actual person named Ollie or Vee, they’re just the halves of the word Olive, which became the names of two cute cartoon characters in the logo. We were there for National Vinegar Day so of course the vinegars were emphasized, but olive oil and vinegar really do best when served together.

The location I visited opened in August, and is the third and newest of their small chain. The first store opened in March 2012 so they’re expanding very quickly! The others are in Buckhead and Roswell. Deborah Hardee and Suzanne Davidson, the owners, were both there to show their visitors around the shop and talk about what makes their products special. They get their oils twice a year, from the Northern Hemisphere in the spring and the Southern in the fall, so they are always fresh. The vinegars are all Modena from Italy. There is another manager, Allison, at the Vinings store to give guests great ideas.

The shop is designed around tasting. They have an extensive selection of flavored and infused oils and vinegars, including some of the new classification of ultra-premium olive oil (single-varietal olives). The oils I liked best turned out to be the citrus ones, possibly because the fruits were pressed with the olives. Those just seemed the most vivid of the selections. I have to say the blueberry vinegar paired with the lemon oil was truly impressive. Another I really enjoyed was the apricot white balsamic paired with red pepper-infused oil. The olive oils come with a polyphenol rating, which helps to determine how high a cooking temperature they can withstand. Very useful. While there are some bottles out for immediate purchase, you can get your selection poured fresh for you into a new bottle after you choose it.

I apologize in advance because this may be slightly insulting to the truly excellent food provided by Soho (especially that sheep-and-cow blend cheese on the salad – oh my word but that was fabulous!) but the thing that most impressed me overall was the brownie that the owners served with the ice cream at the end (for putting vinegar over, of course! Some time you should try the strawberry vinegar over vanilla ice cream. Lovely). Why was I so struck by such a humble offering? Well, they used a plain old grocery store boxed mix and used the blood orange olive oil instead of vegetable oil in preparation. And that thing was GREAT! I think it was the single most eloquent way they could have chosen to show how the quality of the ingredients you choose makes a difference in the food you prepare.

Something I plan to go back for later is their mix-n-match gift packs with 3 oils and 3 vinegars in small manageable jars for experimentation or just for keeping at your desk at work for salads. No refrigeration needed, and so much better for you than bottled dressings.

The store also has some other premium items such as sea salts, pasta, lotions and the like, as well as some products made by local artisans. Also, of course, pour spouts. Definitely recommended. You don’t want your nice vinegar dripping down the side of the bottle. So if you do plan on getting your (very, very lucky) friend or colleague or family member one of the gift packs available, make sure to pick up a couple of those to throw in.

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