And Thai Gourmet. And Frosted Cupcakery. But, I digress.
A few months ago, my foodie friends Lisa and Aaron bragged about We Olive after Stroll & Savor, summer's official taste of Belmont Shore in Long Beach. It didn't take much convincing to get me there, and exactly one week ago, I joined Lisa, plus three other taste-testing-friends, Rachel, Amy and Matt, for a night of bread and olive oil. Really? Really.
Thanks to friendly Phil, we tasted oils, balsamics and vinegars... and dukkah. Do you know what that is? 'Twas so amazing Lisa brought some home.
I came home with... exactly what I was hoping to find.
+ A good California olive oil: Hillstone Olive Oil Arbequina. As far as the extra virgin olive oils we tasted, this was of the stronger - but lighter - variety, and it lingers with a hint of pepper that you can feel as it goes down... in a good way. And we were told it's a fabulous cooking olive oil for pastas, salads, bruschetta and green vegetables. And, perhaps most importantly: for bread dipping.
+ A sweet syrup-y balsamic: We Olive's Traditional Aged Balsamic of Modena. BTW: they sell this from the barrel, so you return with the same bottle and refill for a cheaper rate. Love the idea of recycling and reusing glass.
When I go back for my balsamic refill, I'm going to take a closer look at their white balsamics and cider vinegars (and dukkah). I hope Phil's there to fill me in on other good tips about dips, like:
+ Store your olive oil away from the sun. Like wine, olive oil is adversely affected by light and heat.
+ Extra virgin and extra extra virgin aren't so different (at all).
+ When shopping for balsamics, age = sweetness; the older the bottle, the sweeter the syrup.
+ If you can find a bottle of balsamic with an authentic seal and/or batch number, you're heading in the right direction.
We ended the night here, before stuffing ourselves here. In short: Wednesday night perfection.
L: thanks for bringing us together. Our date was everything I hoped for, and so much more!
PS: We used the Hillstone Olive Oil on our sweet potato fries over the weekend. Deee-lightful.