5 Courses of Oil and Vinegar Pairings
Experts from specialty stores share their favourite olive oil and balsamic vinegar combos.
This chipotle oil and Neapolitan herb vinegar from Canmore's Evoolution makes a great finish for soup.
Photo courtesy of Evoolution
You’ve drizzled them over salad and used them to dunk pieces of bread, but there are many more ways to enjoy olive oil and balsamic vinegar. From sweet citrus to rich spice, the flavour infusions and combinations are endless. Here’s how to show them off in every course of your meal.
Appetizer: Basil oil and fig balsamic from On Tap
“The basil olive oil is fresh, very green and herbal, and has a light licorice-type flavour,” says owner Juliana Freund. “The dark balsamic is quite sweet, with a ripe and mellow fig flavour.” This combination is great for dipping with a loaf of French bread, but it can also be drizzled over cantaloupe and honeydew melon, or served with soft cheeses like Brie.
$13 for 200 mL, On Tap Oil & Vinegar, 22 McRae St., Okotoks, 403-995-1982, ontapov.ca
Soup: Chipotle oil and Neapolitan herb balsamic from Evoolution
Rather than being spicy, this chipotle olive oil has a warm and smoky slow burn. “If you paired it with something herby and zesty like the Neapolitan herb balsamic vinegar, that would be great drizzled over a seasonal soup — butternut squash, tomato, or any bisque," said Weronika Kundera, manager of Evoolution’s Canmore location. "The vinegar’s got a lot of strong traditional herbs like rosemary, thyme, garlic and sage, so it adds a lot of flavour.”
$14 for 200 mL, Evoolution, 710 8 St., Canmore, 1-403-678-0162, evoolution.ca
Salad: Blood orange oil and cranberry pear balsamic from Blue Door
This pairing shines as a dressing over roasted beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts. “The blood orange oil is what we call fused rather than infused, so the whole fruit is crushed with the olives at the mill,” says owner Bruce Gillis. “The cranberry pear is a light balsamic vinegar, so the grapes aren’t cooked as long as dark balsamic. It’s also not aged as long, and it doesn’t take on as many of the wood notes. The cranberry hits right away, and the pear will linger.”
Main: Harissa oil and espresso balsamic from Bragg Creek Oil and Vinegar
Infused with a North African spice paste, harissa oil features the flavours of chili peppers, garlic, caraway and cumin. “It’s spicy, but it’s not just spicy,” says owner Adele Henderson. “It’s got a lots of flavour because of the other herbs in it. When you pair it with a dark, heavy balsamic like the espresso, it really smoothes out the oil. It’s so versatile - I’ve drizzled it on trout, salmon, chicken, pork, beef and roasted vegetables.”
$13 for 200 mL, Bragg Creek Oil and Vinegar Market, 7 Balsam Ave., Bragg Creek, 403-949-8220, braggcreekoilandvinegarmarket.ca
Dessert: Lemon oil and dark chocolate balsamic from Soffritto
Spice up a tiramisu or breathe new life into simple desserts like vanilla gelato and warm brownies with this mellow pairing. “Your taste buds will initially process the vinegar side, and then as it works its way through, you start to get the dark chocolate,” said Soffritto’s owner, Gord Fontaine. “You get the chocolate flavour, but the sweetness comes from the aging process of the vinegar.” This balsamic pairs well with a light, refreshing lemon olive oil, and you can also dip pieces of angel food cake in them like bread.