Habitat began carrying Olivelle in 2018, after I traveled to beautiful Bozeman, Montana for their full training and tasting experience. I met Brie Thompson, the founder, and learned of her initial olive oil franchise and how it abruptly hit a brick wall when the franchisor went bankrupt. Instead of bouncing off that wall and limping home with a bruised face, she determinedly decided to climb over it. Learning everything she could about the olive oil industry, Brie became one of the few extra virgin olive oil "savantes" in the world, passing a rigorous test proving she could detect all of the possible defects in an olive oil by blind taste and smell. This focus on quality led to the founding of Olivelle. The flavored olive oil industry had long relied on windfall olives, the olives that fall to the ground prior to harvest, immediately beginning the process of decay. The industry usually attempted to hide these off flavors by adding flavor infusions. Brie decided this was backwards, and that Olivelle would start with same-day cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil before infusing it with flavors. It's no wonder that the infused oils I tasted then were so dramatically better than those I'd tried before, and the vinegars were just as good.
I didn't just drink the oils and vinegars, I drank the Kool-Aid (which, fun fact, was actually invented here in Nebraska). Tasting is believing. The quality of this product, along with the canisters which keep it un-aerated, safe from light, and fresh until bottling made the choice to bring Olivelle to Habitat a no-brainer. And from the very first day it arrived, it was a hit.
So, how do we use it? With more than two dozen oils and vinegars, where does one start? The obvious way to use quality oil and vinegar is to dip bread in it, but that is barely scratching the surface.
One of our favorite things to do with them is marinate meat. This is grilling country (but where isn't it, really?), and an obvious place to start is chicken breasts. They're lean, relatively healthy, and often bland. Sure, the grill livens them up a little, but make a marinade of equal parts oil and vinegar, add some kosher salt, throw the chicken in for 30 minutes, or 45, however long you have. The result is nothing short of a transformation from boring to delicious. My favorite chicken marinade combination is Caramelized Garlic Oil and Spicy Sriracha Vinegar.
Other great uses include drizzling over Caprese Salad and French bread; finishing grilled vegetables; sauteing meat, vegetables, and seafood; replacing the cooking oil in cake recipes; replacing the butter in Rice Krispie bars; replacing or supplementing the butter on baked and sweet potatoes; adding to chicken salad; replacing the butter in "butter noodles"; and of course, drizzling balsamic vinegar over strawberries and hard cheese, Italian-style.
Here's a list of some of our favorite pairings:
- Tuscan Herb Olive Oil & Rosé Wine Vinegar - Salad dressing - WOW!
- Caramelized Garlic Oil & Spicy Sriracha Vinegar - Sauté shrimp, marinate chicken, or make a three-bean salad
- Smoked Balsamic Vinegar - Dress spinach and arugula salads; drizzle over steaks hot off the grill while they're resting (SHHH! They're resting!)
- Caramelized Garlic Oil & Vine-Ripened Raspberry Vinegar- Another great salad dressing, and a fantastic chicken marinade
- Harvest Fig Balsamic Vinegar - Drizzle over Caprese salad, strawberries, hard cheese...ice cream!
- Vera Cruz Chili Oil & Spicy Sriracha Vinegar - replace taco seasoning entirely - YUM
- Blood Orange Olive Oil - Another great marinade base, but also use for baking cakes, making outstanding Rice Krispie bars (don't say we didn't warn you), and drizzle over a sweet potato with crushed black pepper
- Tahitian Lime Oil & Meyer Lemon Vinegar - Lemon-Lime shrimp or chicken
- Sweet Cream Butter Olive Oil - Season popcorn or cook scrambled eggs
- Cucumber White Balsamic Vinegar - The perfect cousin to just about any flavor of oil you like to marinate, fresh and crisp; add to ice water for addictive and healthy hydration during warm weather
- Toasted Sesame Oil and Spicy Sriracha Vinegar - stir fry
- Dark Balsamic Vinegar and Caramelized Garlic Olive Oil - marinate beef, especially skirt steak for the grill
So there you have it. This is by no means a complete list. You are limited only by your imagination, so please experiment. Good quality extra virgin olive oils are a healthy addition to the diet, especially when they replace unhealthy fats, and have high levels of antioxidants. Likewise, news of the health benefits of fermented foods like vinegar is growing by the month. We can hardly think of a better duo to add to your diet, not least because they contribute so much flavor and variety. Enjoy!