More often than not, that bottle of olive oil on the shelves of your local grocery store is a scam.
Often mixed with colourants and other cheaper alternatives, like canola and sunflower-seed oil, olive oil has been falsely advertised going back centuries. (In fact, a 2013 study by the EU found that olive oil tops the list of food most prone to fraud.)
Fortunately, at newly opened Marketplace shop Olives on Tap, you can be sure you're getting the real deal.
"We found a lot of folks haven't actually tried good extra virgin olive oil and they're surprised when it's grassy or fruity or that it has a flavour at all," explained Andrew Cameron, who opened the Olives on Tap location three weeks ago.
The shop offers several varieties of EVOO and balsamic vinegars stored in metal fustis that customers can sample in-store. The tasting room concept is a growing trend in the industry as consumers become more aware of where their food is sourced from and how it's made.
"We're seeing a lot more interest in local, knowing your farmers and being able to take responsibility for the product," Cameron said. "Now the ethos is to take responsibility for how we eat, what we eat and how it's produced."
Cameron, who launched the original Olives on Tap in North Vancouver three years ago, works with farmers overseas to source only premium products, which are lab-tested and tasted by a panel of quality control experts before hitting his shelves. The store offers single cultivar premium EVOO, infused oils prepared by professional chefs in California, as well as dark and white balsamics from Modena, Italy, which are aged up to 18 years in some cases.
The North Van location hosts several tasting events and seminars a month, educating attendees on the history and origins of the products, as well as providing recipes for home. Cameron hopes to provide similar opportunities at his newest store in the coming months, and explained why Whistler was a good fit for Olives on Tap.
"There's a food mentality here, there's great restaurants and people know how to play hard and work hard, and that was a draw for us," he said. "We have something a little different and we thought it would fit right into the little niche of the village with all these other great little niches that flourish here."
A quick scan of the store's website is enough to get the salivary glands going, with several unique infused oils on offer, like a Milanese gremalota olive oil and a Persian lime variety. The vinegars are equally as tantalizing, with items like a cinnamon pear dark balsamic or a tangerine dark balsamic, available to buy for $20 for a 375ml bottle.
For more information and store hours, visit www.olivesontap.com.