Over the last year and a half, local business Frescolio has been bringing unique, high quality oils and balsamic vinegars to the Corydon area. Frescolio emphasizes quality and freshness. Olives are harvested and crushed seasonally, so the origin of the oil is dependent upon the time of year, which optimizes freshness and taste. Also, bottles are poured to order. After you've tasted and chosen what you'd like, they pour you a bottle directly from the vacuum sealed fusti (the stainless steel container where the oils and vinegars are stored). The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and will lead you through a tasting, make recommendations, and even offer tips for ways to use their products in your cooking.
I first visited Frescolio back in November, while researching for my Corydon Village neighbourhood post. Up until that point, I didn't even know that specialty olive oil and balsamic vinegar shops existed. I typically just buy olive oil at the grocery store. But after tasting the oils and vinegars at Frescolio, and learning more about the products from manager Chantal, I'm becoming something of a convert.
Tell me a little bit about your supplier and where your oils and vinegars come from. Our oil and vinegar supplier is Veronica Foods, and they’re based in California. They supply over 500 stores in North America, but each one is independently owned and operated. The Extra Virgin Olive Oils (EVOO’s) come from all over the world based on the season. For our Varietals (unflavoured EVOO), we order only from the most recent harvest, either from the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere depending on the time of year. We’re right on the cusp of that shift now as we are beginning to get the freshest oils from Spain, Greece, North Africa and California, while still getting a few from Chile, Australia and Peru to round out our selection. The balsamic vinegars all come from Modena, Italy, one of two provinces in that country where the making of balsamic vinegar is governed by regulation.
Can you explain some of the benefits of the oils and vinegars you carry over grocery store brands?
Our olive-oil is UP (Ultra-Premium) certified, which means that it exceeds the International Olive Council’s quality standards and testing. We also post the chemical analysis, crush dates, and country of origin of each of our Varietals right on the front of the fusti (stainless steel containers we dispense from). This ensures that you’re getting the highest quality olive oil as well as all those great health benefits you’ve read about. High standards also exist for our balsamic vinegars, which are made without the use of artificial flavourings or additives. The grade we carry, called “condimento,” made entirely of natural ingredients, is second only to “tradizionale” grade (extremely expensive – available from us by special order), and vastly superior to commercial grade balsamic which is what’s generally sold in grocery stores and is often wine vinegar with colouring, thickening and sweetening added. Our balsamic vinegar is aged in wood barrels using the Solera Method, which ensures that you get the right texture and smooth taste. Aside from the technical part of it, our oils and vinegars simply taste better than grocery store brands! That’s why we’re a tasting bar – we know that when customers taste the difference, they become regulars.
Any cooking suggestions? What are some unexpected uses you've found for oil and vinegar in cooking?
We have lots of our favourite recipes on our website! There’s a common misconception that you can’t cook with olive-oil, which is a reputation based on low quality olive oil which does have a lower smoke point. However, since our product is of such a high quality, it can withstand heat and makes for an excellent choice for sautéing, baking, grilling or marinating. Many people are surprised to know that EVOO is a healthy substitute for butter in baking – we even have a butter-flavoured oil! One of the most unexpected uses I’ve found balsamic vinegar is in drinks! Some of the fruitier white balsamic vinegars such as the Peach, Pomegranate-Quince, Grapefruit, and Cara-Cara Orange-Vanilla are fantastic in a cocktail with a bit of vodka and soda. It also works nicely in sparkling water for a refreshing non-alcoholic option!
A huge thank you to Chantal for taking the time to talk with me and teach me about these exciting and absolutely delicious products.