A few days ago my mom took me to an amazing place called The Unrefined Olive. It is an olive oil and balsamic tasting bar, and it was so much fun! It is located just off Bank Street on Second Avenue, in Ottawa. If anyone reading this happens to live around here, you should go!
The tasting bar has long rows of keg type things filled with oils and vinegars. The first row is plain olive oils ranging from very light to strong intensity. Apparently I like the stronger, more bitter olive oils. One of the strongest ones had a really peppery bite to it that was awesome! The 2 rows are the infused olive oils, which were all delicious. Some of the most interesting ones to me were the lime infused oil, the ones with various peppers in them and the butter olive oil (it tastes exactly like butter, but it is just oil! So cool!!!).
The final row is lined with their balsamic vinegars. This was definitely my favourite part of the tasting, and I found it refreshing (that sounds weird, it's vinegar...) after tasting so many oils. I couldn't even tell you which were the most interesting of these, because they were all so good. There were also a few different oils and vinegars to try as well. At the end of one row there was honey vinegar. This is made from fermented honey, and it was really tasty! At the very back there was also a row of different types of oils such as sunflower oil and almond oil. These oils weren't for tasting though, so I can't comment on them.
When you are ready to buy something, you can pick out a bottle size (s,m,l) and they will fill it up for you from the keg. My Mom was nice enough to buy me a few small bottles of the ones I liked. Thank you Mom (I know you're reading this)!!! Here are the ones I picked out:
The olive oils I picked were the garlic olive oil and the chipotle olive oil. The garlic is just classic and was calling to me, even though there were so many more interesting ones. I have a garlic addiction (vampires beware!) and just couldn't resist. This one will be great for cooking so many different things. The chipotle olive oil is one of the pepper infused oils I said was so interesting. This was the least spicy of the bunch, but I love the smokiness of chipotle and that really comes through in the oil. I don't have a ton of ideas for what to do with this one yet, but I'm thinking my next grilled cheese will be fried in this instead of butter for starters! The girl who was helping us with our tasting said that she uses this oil to fry eggs in and that sounds delicious too.
My mom also got herself a few bottles. She got the 18 year aged balsamic, the lime infused oil I mentioned earlier and the blackberry ginger balsamic. We both loved that one so much! Once again, thank you Mom!
Going to The Unrefined Olive was a great experience. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The girl who helped us was especially good, and knew when to explain things to us as well as when to leave us be to try things. To anyone in the area or who will someday visit Ottawa, add this to your list of places to go!