Shop Here Now: F. Oliver’s
By Patti Dorazio
Blend olive oil and vinegar and you get classic vinaigrette, but with the addition of infused oils and vinegars, a vinaigrette’s potential yields so much more. Proprietor of F. Oliver’s Penelope Pankow is no stranger to the hospitality business and is putting her Cornell education to good use at F. Oliver’s, which has four locations throughout the Finger Lakes region (Canandaigua, Rochester, Ithaca, and now Skaneateles). At her unique store, Pankow invites you to experiment with fresh, healthy, flavorful oils and vinegars to navigate your way beyond basic vinaigrette, with the knowledgeable staff offering tastings of these naturally infused oils and vinegars. No doubt you’ve seen food made with the more common oils on restaurant menus: basil, lemon, blood orange, garlic. But have you heard of harissa oil, a North African spice blend? Or gremolata oil? You can use these highly flavorful and natural oils to create both savory and sweet dishes. For example, use harissa oil as a marinade for chicken or pork. Or saute onions and chickpeas in it, then add quinoa or brown rice for a grain side dish. But flavored oil in a sweet dish? Yes, add depth to brownies by adding harissa oil. The spiciness of the oil comes through and complements the chocolate for depth of flavor.
Not convinced yet? Well, F. Oliver’s also carries a wide selection of infused balsamic vinegars; all vinegars originate in Modena, Italy, and are “true balsamics” aged for a minimum of 12 years on an Italian family farm. Once again, these vinegars can change the flavor profile of both savory and sweet dishes. Put dark chocolate vinegar over non-fat Greek yogurt, topped with granola for breakfast. And if you prefer fudgy brownies, add the same vinegar to get dense brownie texture. Beyond savory and sweet items, the vinegars can be used to flavor cocktails, teas and tisanes. Add the ginger-spiked blackberry vinegar to gin, vodka, Champagne or sparking water, and you have a refreshing, innovative summer cocktail to enjoy. Better yet, add some creamy coconut vinegar, depending on preferential taste, to your next Margarita for an individualized palette-pleasing drink.
Go ahead. Take the challenge. Expand your flavor profile and deepen your sense of taste. All locations of F. Oliver’s host tastings every day of the week during normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm; Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, 12pm-4pm). Stop in and the staff will be glad to start you on your taste adventure.
Patti Dorazio is a recently retired technical communication professor from SUNY Institute of Technology who now has time to fulfill dreams of writing pieces about culinary arts and to continue to practice her cooking skills.
Photos provided by F. Oliver’s