My two favorite ingredients, which I always have in my kitchen and have been known to travel with are Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. People are always confused about both of these ingredients. I will try to clear any confusion you may have regarding these ingredients.
The darker the olive oil, the stronger the flavor. The method in which the oil is processed is what determines if it is extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is also best used fresh. It doesn’t age well. I recommend using the robust olive oil for dishes like pasta, or when you drizzle it on your vegetables. Use a lighter olive oil for salads or bread dips.
Most people think there is only one flavor balsamic vinegar. If you haven’t tasted different types of balsamic vinegars, you are really missing out. I use balsamic vinegar to marinating steaks as well as for common uses such as a salad dressing. Once you get a few delicious balsamic vinegars the sky is the limit.
The quality of your olive oil and balsamic vinegar are not directly related to the price. I have spent obscene amounts of money on these only to be completely disappointed. If you want a delicious salad dressing or a fantastic pasta sauce, you cannot start with a subpar major ingredient. Both olive oil and balsamic vinegar are essential to the flavors of your dish. Think of them as your supporting actor. They make a significant difference.
I know many people who claim they are olive oil and balsamic vinegar snobs and spend $30 or more on a bottle on something that is barely mediocre. I was always on the hunt to find that perfect olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You know the one you taste at your favorite restaurant and when you try to make the salad dressing or bread dip at home, it never tastes the same? Well, it’s simple, you don’t have a quality olive oil or balsamic vinegar necessary. Thanks to We Olive you can.
I discovered We Olive on a trip to Santa Barbara. The We Olive store was filled with barrels of olive oil and balsamic vinegar varieties that they make. They use sustainable farming practices which is another plus. They also have bottles from other companies, but I never waste my time on those. You can taste each of the different flavors before purchasing. They do allow you to take your own containers or buy one of theirs. I recommend buying one of theirs. However, when I lived over three hours away from the closest We Olive store, I purchased gallon size glass bottles and filled those babies up. It is not cheap, but it’s completely worth it. If you don’t live anywhere near a We Olive, don’t worry, they have a website http://www.weolive.com.
My staples that I always buy are the Aged Balsamic Vinegar and the Arbequina Olive Oil and I use these for salad. I also like the Mission Olive Oil for drizzling over pasta, vegetables or dipping sauces. With respect to balsamic vinegar, I use the peach and blackberry for salad dressings too. the Peach Balsamic goes great with fish and chicken and the Blackberry Balsamic is great with beef or lamb.