Friday, December 12, 2014

Like Oil and...Vita Sana Olive Oil Company

Everyone’s heard the saying of two substances not going together, you know, like oil and water.  Well, I’ll tell you what oil does go with—good olive oil, anyway—and that is EVERYTHING!  Olive oil use is booming in the United States, not only for cooking, but for infusing, dipping, and dressing as well.  This boom has spawned a growing (what I call) designer olive oil industry.  In other words, specialty shops are popping up all over selling high quality and unique olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  I love this trend.  Love. It!  So I was in a bit of olive oil heaven when I visited Vita Sana Olive Oil Company on St. Joe Street in Rapid.

Olive oils and vinegars lining the modern store.

Vita Sana is in Rapid City, South Dakota, but don't miss its parent shop in Casper, Wyoming!
Vita Sana was open and inviting from the moment we stepped in the door.  Its walls were lined with high quality olive oils on one side and delicious balsamic vinegars on the other side.   Tasting was encouraged of all products—my favorite part.  Tasting cups were provided, and a small bit of oil or vinegar was put in each cup.  My comrades and I were instructed to rub the cups with oil on the palms of our hands to warm them a bit, then smell and swallow just like wine.  The balsamics didn’t need warmed up, but I found myself swirling them before smelling as well.

Store manager Rhonda showing us how this tasting is done.

I have infused my own olive oils in the past, and the “plain” olive oils here would be great for use alone or for infusing.  However, my favorite part of the experience was looking at the different options of already-infused oils for sale.  Some of these flavors I would never have thought to put together; many were old standbys, but all were so tasty.  Take blood orange for example.  I would never have thought to infuse oil with this fruit, but it was one of my favorites!  Of course, other flavors like Herbs de Provence and White Truffle were oils I loved and wanted to begin using right away.  On the other hand, I must not get so caught up in flavored options that I forget about the quality of the oils themselves.  During this time of year, the oils for sale originated in the southern hemisphere, from countries like Peru and Chile.  This is because of the harvest seasons there.  After the northern hemisphere harvested this fall, oils from Europe and Texas will be in the store by summer, making sure that the freshest oils are always available for customers.  There are many different styles and even organic options from which to choose, no matter what time of year it may be. 

Tasting the oils and vinegars...they mix WELL!

My comrade showing proper olive oil tasting technique.
As interested as I was in the oils, the balsamics had me even more enthralled!  I have long loved a well-aged balsamic, and these did not disappoint.   There was even a twenty-year aged traditional vinegar.  The infusion flavors were also impressive for the dark vinegars:  black cherry, jalapeño, and dark espresso were just a few.  But again, you know me, I love what’s even more unique and unusual, so I was drawn to the white balsamics like the cranberry pear and other fruity essences. 

Though oil and water may not mix, a pairing not to be missed is oil and vinegar…and I mean good olive oils and good balsamic vinegars!  The increase in popularity of both of these products has made it easier for consumers everywhere to get the best of both.  It’s a trend I hope stays and becomes common place.  Vita Sana Olive Oil Company in Rapid City (with its parent store in Casper, Wyoming) has embraced this movement and offers the best in both oils and vinegars for dipping, dressing, and infusing.  Stop in to do a tasting today.  Mix oil with your vinegar soon!

Though olive oils and vinegars are the star of Vita Sana's show...
The designer cheese case is also a supporting cast member that shouldn't be missed.

How to use your oils and vinegars:

Red, Orange, and Blue Salad

Hearts of romaine lettuce—3 cups
Blue cheese crumbles—1/4 cup
Golden raisins—1/4 cup
Honey roasted almond slices—2 tbsp.
Grilled or roasted chicken breast—2 oz.

Blood orange olive oil—2 tsp.
Cranberry orange white balsamic—3 tsp.