By Jill Nagy
For someone with a yen for a bit of special extra-virgin olive oil and perhaps some special balsamic vinegar to go with it, Kathleen Connolly’s new Clifton Park Center shop, Oliva!, may be the place to go.
The shop features about 25 different oils and 25 different vinegars, stored in special 10-liter stainless steel containers called fustis, each with a tiny spigot.
Connolly refers to the store as a tasting bar, explaining that “everything we sell is available for sampling.”
Sample enough of the wares and a customer is apt to find something irresistible. A staff member will put it up in a 200-milliliter (approximately 6 ounces) bottle to go home with. Prices range from $12.95 to about $30.
Some of the vinegars and oils are flavored, either fused (flavored by fruits crushed along with the olives) or infused (flavored afterward), including a white truffle infused olive oil and a serrano honey-infused vinegar. There are also some other types of oil such as a roasted French walnut oil and a toasted sesame oil.
In addition to olive oils and balsamic vinegars, Oliva! sells other specialty foods such as salts and pastas and items such as dipping dishes.
The oils come from around the world. Connolly said she buys them through an importer based in California.
“The oils taste significantly different depending upon the type of olive, how and when it was harvested, and what region it comes from,” she said.
Oil from a picual olive from Spain tastes different than the oil from a picual olive from Australia, for example. Like wine, olive oil’s flavor varies with soil type and weather as well.
Oliva! represents a career change for Connolly. Before opening her shop, she sold computer software to hospitals. As a result, she said, she understands the health benefits of olive oil, particularly high-end premium olive oil. Think antioxidants and polyphenols and the apparent heart-healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
She said she was also attracted to the business because she loves to cook. Her interest was further piqued by a visit she made to a similar store in Maine five or six years ago.
The Clifton Park store opened in September. Now, Connolly is preparing to open a second location at Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany next spring.
Find out more about Oliva!’s products and see recipes that utilize them at www.olivaevoo.com. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Their telephone number is 371-3866.