“Attention foodies: Houston has full “fustis!” Connoisseurs and amateurs alike have a new culinary hub to hit in Houston with OLIVE & VINE; a recently-debuted boutique in Houston’s upscale CITYCENTRE district boasting the widest selection of fresh olive oils and authentic imported balsamic vinegars available in this region of Texas. OLIVE & VINE, a retail shop and “tasting bar,” features an ever-evolving roster of premium, super fresh, extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars perfect for cooking, snacking, and gifting.”

“The most exciting part is that patrons are able to sample the oils and vinegars before deciding what to buy, as each product is kept in its own large, stainless steel container—called a “fusti” (pronounced foo-stee)—and is then bottled on the spot for customers to take home, ensuring the freshest oils and most flavorful vinegars.”

We recently visited the shop and got some one-on-one time with the owners Wayde and Susan Burt!

As Susan puts it, there are two primary reasons people purchase olive oil: for the taste and for health purposes. Not only did we learn a ton during our visit on olive oils, we were also able to grasp an in depth understanding of balsamic vinegar and its usage. When we think of vinegar, we are not sure about you, but ham and ice cream are not the first things we pull from the top of our heads. Picture this…homemade vanilla ice cream topped with “Chocolate Decadence” balsamic vinegar? Here’s one more…imagine Thanksgiving dinner where you are serving a deliciously juicy honey baked ham that has been marinated or braised in “Warm Cinnamon Pear” balsamic vinegar! Yeah, our thoughts exactly – AWESOME! Put on your creative recipe hats and give those a whirl! For the most part when we think of balsamic vinaigrette, we are not thinking ice cream (well, not us novice cooks). If you have never really used vinegar, you are probably thinking “salads”. One of us has used balsamic vinaigrette before and the other has not. I see a cook off on the horizon!

During our visit, we also found out how little we knew on the subject of olive oils. The variances in flavor profiles are as varied as the crops’ source, for example winter versus summer harvests. We were surprised to find that “Picuals” will vary in taste depending on the hemisphere. With olive oils, many of us have used it either as a marinade, drizzled it on a dish, or used it to sauté vegetables. At Olive and Vine, not only do they have the traditional extra virgin olive oils, but they also offer infused olive oils, like garlic and chipotle. Did you know that those bottles of extra virgin olive oil, “EVOO”, you purchase in your local grocery market may not be “EVOO” at all? Yep, we didn’t either! According to a recent study conducted by the University of California, Davis, it was found that up to “69% of the popular imported olive oils do not meet the technical and taste standards of an official “EVOO” title”.

We can go on and on, but we would rather you stop by and meet Susan and Wayde! Olive & Vine is located in CITYCENTRE at 12848 Queensbury Lane (entrance faces Town & Country Blvd near Queensbury). It is open Tuesday through Thursday 11 AM to 7 PM, Friday and Saturday from 11 AM to 9 PM and Sunday from noon to 5 PM. For more information visit www.oliveandvineshop.com.

The Urban Swank Girls

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