In the past few years, Winnipeg food entrepreneurs have been taking the city’s tastebuds on increasingly memorable adventures.
Before The Winnipeg Chamber heads to Frescolio for our February 20 networking event, we asked store manager Hannah McCarthy to reflect on the local food scene as well as how they introduce new customers to epicurean oils and vinegars.
The Winnipeg Chamber: How do you think the foodie scene in Winnipeg has changed since you opened Frescolio?
Hannah McCarthy: When Frescolio opened up in 2013, the foodie scene in Winnipeg was just starting to really take off. The diverse and prolific restaurant scene in Winnipeg has opened people’s eyes to new types of cuisine, and a higher quality of food in general. That has translated to our customers caring more about where their food is coming from and what it’s made of.
WC: What’s your current favourite olive oil and vinegar?
HM: That’s always a tricky question, because we have so many favourites. The Butternut Squash oil is a newer one for us, and one we’re really enjoying. It’s great for hearty fall and winter roasted vegetables, and is just as good in homemade pumpkin bread. I also always love the classic – a great robust mono-varietal oil paired with our 18-Year Aged Traditional dark balsamic!
WC: What advice do you have for people unfamiliar with an olive oil tasting bar?
HM: Don’t feel intimidated! You don’t have to be a professional chef to use the product. None of us have professional training in the culinary field; we just really love cooking and eating. We understand how overwhelming it can be on your first visit, but we’re here to help. And bring friends – it is more fun with more experiments!
WC: What are the taste indicators of premium olive oils and vinegars?
HM: For premium olive oil, think fresh. It should smell and taste like fresh herbs/green fruit/green grass. All premium olive oils must have positive ratings for fruitiness, bitterness and pungency. For premium balsamic, think natural, as in no additives. Authentic balsamic is cooked and wood-barrel aged grape must, and nothing else. No added thickeners, sweeteners or colouring. Premium flavoured balsamics are made by only adding the essence of the natural flavour.
WC: What’s your “go to” meal when you’re in a rush (that uses your products)?
HM: I usually throw together a spinach salad with goat cheese, walnuts, green onion and dried cranberries, and top it with Persian Lime EVOO and Black Cherry Dark Balsamic vinegar. If I have a bit more time I’ll back a chicken breast in our Garlic EVOO and add that on top.
For the simplest appetizer ever, pour premium EVOO in shallow dish, add 18-Year Aged Traditional dark balsamic, and dip with a good local focaccia! Yum!!