Ancient Olive, A St. Augustine Experience

Last night, I had a foodie “experience”.

I’m not talking about a dining experience, either. I’m talking about an experience full of flavors, and scents, and great discussions about amazing food. It’s just that there wasn’t a lot of food there.

Besides some dipping bread, of course.

The Ancient Olive on King Street specializes in olive oils and balsamic vinegars. They have a ton of each–literally filling the store with stainless steel containers holding the mysterious liquids. There is cubed bread for the tasting, but they also provide small plastic cups so that you can dip your tongue in the goodness as well.

What do they have? Let’s start with the olive oils. There are olive oils from around the world, and the very helpful staff (ask for James, who actually ran down the street to get me some ice cream so that I could taste a blood orange olive oil on top of Claude’s vanilla bean ice cream) will walk you through where each is from (the processing standards vary dramatically from region to region, and James is happy to explain the intricacies to you in a way that’s entertaining and enlightening all at once).

There are infused olive oils, with the light taste of basil, lemon, herbs, butter, or any number of other interesting flavors.

Then there are the vinegars–a delicious array of deep balsamic vinegars with hints of espresso (I bought a bottle), strawberry, blueberrry, lavender, apple, vanilla, and many many more. (You can see all of their offerings at www.theancientolive.com).

You can taste as many as you like, and the staff will make suggestions for usage at home. For instance, on First Friday Artwalks, the Ancient Olive staff makes a delicious salad with pears, strawberries, and a strawberry infused balsamic vinegar and a basil olive oil. Delish!

You can buy their products in 375 ml bottles, or in small tasting-sized bottles (hint, hint–stocking stuffers, anyone??) They also sell homemade pastas, as well as a small selection of beautiful serving pieces (I am lusting after a tray I saw there…and I may have to go back this weekend to pick it up!)

I could go on and on all day about the wonderful staff (James got married in St. Augustine 2 years ago, and a lot of his guests stayed at the inn, so of course we were fast friends!), the amazing flavors, and the expert suggestions, but really–you have to “experience” it yourself.

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