Emulsify, Expand Your Olive Oil & Balsamic Repetoire
Ottawa’s Emulsify, a specialty shop featuring two items that combine in an almost endless variety of taste experiments. Shelves lined with extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oils and aged balsamic vinegar (both dark & white), flavored and infused to heighten everything from meats to sweets.
In the kitchen it’s often the simplest of ingredients that can take a dish from mediocrity to over-the-top. Underpinning sugar against savory, acid layered on salt or fat adjunct to bitterness can create amazing meals that wow the taste buds.
In the Mediterranean, the cuisines of Greece, Spain & Italy rely the health conscious oil from the olive tree. If your experience of olive oil is limited to spaghetti sauce and off the shelf salad dressings, then you’re missing out. Olive oil, as a stand alone taste can be extraordinary, it varies from light and crisp to rich and earthy. Thing is, without tasting the product first we often purchase based on price or brand familiarity, not on flavour profile.
The same can be said of Balsamic vinegar, which varies in depth, character and sweetness. Made from made from a reduction of cooked white Trebbiano or Lambrusco grapes, then aged in a a succession of progressively smaller barrels ranging from chestnut, oak, mulberry, ash, even juniper gives each vinegar unique characteristics, not unlike wine.
Emulsify is a tasting bar, with tiny samples of requested product measured into plastic cups from their stainless steel casks, that gleam on the shelves. On the lighter side of the olive try the Rallis or Olive Spain varieties. In the mid range with a slightly meatier flavour, try the Olive Italy harvested from northern Tuscany, with a slight pepper backed aftertaste. And for that robust, juicy olive taste and rich colour, sample the Vantera, the Domenica Fiore Reserva or the Domenica Fiore Novello.
Each can stand on it’s own; drizzle on the season’s ripest tomatoes with the Domenica Fiore Novello, to finish a grilled lamb chop try Olive Italy, or to dip your favorite crusty bread in the light Rallis. But at Emulsify you’ll find a variety of flavoured oils ready for your taste experimentation including basil, meyer lemon, citrus habenero, Persian lime, shallot & garlic (just to name a few).
My Emulsify EVOO buy was the smokey, spicy chipotle infused oil which we apply liberally to our favorite deluxe pizza for kick and colour. Reasonably priced, the 375ml bottle was $19.95, which is the standard for the size.
Emulsify’s 25 Star dark balsamic vinegar is cask aged, thick and robust – truly Italian. Try the traditional dark, just to wipe from your mind all preconceived notions of what a balsamic vinegar ‘should’ taste like. Then try the cherry, smoked, garlic cilantro, chocolate, espresso or (my favourite) fig. I love a good, intense, sweet balsamic on rich, naturally favoured vanilla ice cream. it is a knock-your-socks-off flavour combination. Now I want to try it with the fig balsamic, which (sadly) they were out of due to it’s popularity.
If you’ve never tried white balsamic, Ottawa’s Emulsify is your chance, with taste opportunities at the ready. I love a white balsamic to highlight fruit in salads with it’s natural sweetness and without the colour of the dark variety, which can muddy a clean dish. Try their sesame ginger for a taste sensation and fusion ideas galore.
For a try it and buy it experience that will expand your palate and fuel your creativity in the kitchen, pop by Emulsify and be prepared to send some time. Sip and savour. Mix and match flavours to suit your tastes for a healthy twist on your favorite foods.
Simple food, done well is the key to great cuisine.
1283-B Wellington St W
Ottawa, ON, K1Y 3A6