One would think that the main draw to A Taste of Olive would be olive oil. It is right there in the name, after all, and their product selection is mainly a wide variety of olive oils from around the world, many infused with different flavors. One would be wrong. The single most compelling reason to go to A Taste of Olive is for vinegar. Specifically, their 18-year aged balsamic vinegar.
This stuff is the elixir of the gods. Were talking sweet, don’t-even-need-oil-in-your-salad-dressing smooth. You-could-use-it-as-an-ice-cream-topping smooth. If you like your vinegar really acidic, of course, this is probably not the one for you. For the rest of us, get ready to never buy balsamic at the supermarket again.
Though this vinegar is the main reason to visit A Taste of Olive in either Ardmore or West Chester, it is not the only reason. They have lots of other oils and vinegars, both pure and infused with flavor. Aside from the aforementioned balsamic, there’s also espresso balsamic, and dark chocolate, and fig. And plenty of others. Want something lighter? Try the honey ginger vinegar, great in Asian salads.
There is, of course, a huge selection of olive oils as well. Many are infused with flavors like basil, lemon, chile, or truffles. Personally, however, I’m a purist. Infused oils are fun to try, but I would rather start with the straight-up, good stuff and add my own flavors as necessary. If I had one complaint, in fact, it would be that A Taste of Olive doesn’t have enough of a selection of different “plain” olive oils. Yes, they do have at least ten different varieties, ranging from smooth to spicy, fruity to earthy, and this is probably enough choice for most people. But not for me! I see a wall of these infused oil tanks and I dream instead of sections for Itlay, Spain and South American oils, showcasing the different regions and styles. I’ll readily admit that i am nitpicking here and saying this with a smirk on my face, but I am also quite serious about my oil. That said, whenever I’ve been in A Taste of Olive, the other customers always seem to be clustered around the infused oils, so I am sure the owners know more about what the public wants than I do.
Visiting A Taste of Olive is quite an experience. It is very similar to going to a wine tasting room, except you are sipping pure oil (or vinegar!) instead of tasty wine. For obsessivists such as myself, this straight shooting of many, many oils leaves a rather strange sensation in the throat. The experience would certainly be far better if they would put out little bites of bread to take the oil with (not to mention the fact that this would create a more similar experience to home consumption and thus more realistic tasting). Some of the oil stores I’ve been to in CA do this, but I suppose the owners of A Taste of Olive have their reasons for not. Perhaps they feel it would encourage browse-snacking instead of serious shopping (though I, for one, would shell out a couple bucks for tasting bread if it would be credited to any purchase). I wonder how they would react if I brought my own? Future food for thought.
In addition to oils and vinegar, A Taste of Olive also stocks a wide variety of gourmet treats and giftable items such as pastas, pestos & spreads, and spices. It would certainly make a great stop this holiday season for the food lover on your list. (Gift Certificates also available).
A Taste of Olive
22 W Lancaster Ave
Monday – Saturday (10am – 6pm)
26 South High Str
West Chester, PA
Monday – Saturday (10am – 6pm)
Sunday (11am – 4pm)