Oliv: Calgary's Only Dedicated Olive-Oil Store
While the summer’s Olympians might not lube up with olive oil as they did in ancient Greece, there’s no question this liquid gold is more sought-after than ever. And now, Calgarians can sip their way though the Mediterranean at Oliv, the city’s first dedicated olive-oil shop.
Touted as a premium olive oil and balsamic vinegar experience, the shop is non-descript, preferring to let the bottles (and their contents) do the talking. Hundreds of bottles dot the small space, decorated with metal Fusti canisters, traditionally used to store oil out of the light.
Mini-cups set beside each bottle allow customers to try as many samples as they like, and I’m urged to start tasting within seconds of walking through the door. Well-informed staff teach you how to taste olive oil properly, and will also recommend parings of the oils and vinegars.
I started off with the 18-year-old balsamic vinegar ($23.95/375ml) before moving on to the decadent 25-year bottle ($32.50/200ml). It’s explained that just as sparkling wine has no right to be called “Champagne” unless it’s from the Champagne region, traditional balsamic vinegar must be produced in Modena, Italy, as Oliv’s vinegars are.
Then, I was instructed to warm a plastic cup of oil in the palm of my hand before slurping it back, ensuring oxygen is worked in to enhance the flavour.
Like wine, the oils are characterized by the different cultivars of their region. Koroneiki, a Greek oil, hits me with a peppery afterbite, while the mellow Moroccan oil (used as the base for Oliv’s infused oils) imparts the fresh, green taste of olives.
Oils here are first-pressed, extra-virgin and produced in compliance with International Olive Council standards. And while not technically organic, no chemicals or preservatives have been used.
With more than 35 different flavours each of olive oil and vinegar, unique pairings are endless; so take your time and savour slowly. And don’t fret if you can’t plough through as many tastings as you anticipated. You’re sure to be back.
My Favourite Five
All the blended oils at Oliv Tasting Room are from Morocco and the vinegars from Italy. All products below are 375 ml.
Sun-Dried Tomato, Parmesan, Garlic Oil ($22.75)
The essence of Italy in a bottle, I regret not having pasta on hand to douse with this savoury, heady oil.
Black Truffle Garlic Oil ($28.50)
This bold, earthy oil, imparts a smoky flavour, not dissimilar to bacon.
Persian Lime Oil ($22.75)
With a refreshing, sweet aroma (kinda like limeade), this oil works beautifully with the garlic cilantro balsamic and also apparently in margaritas, as recommended by Saskatchewan customers.
Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic ($23.95)
Warm notes of pear make this candy-like vinegar definitely a drooler.
White Pineapple Balsamic ($31.50)
Lush, tropical, sparkling flavours wake up the mouth and revitalize ice cream and cheesecake.