With a passion for understanding the complexities and benefits of olive oils and balsamic vinegars, Marie Heiland opened Naples Olive Oil Company about eight years ago, and most recently earned an Olive Oil Sommelier Certification from the International Culinary Center of New York and the Olive Oil Times Education Lab. Part of her mission is to help people learn how to separate fake oils from the true extra-virgin olive oils. For example, she says when you see bright green oil in clear plastic bottles, beware that chlorophyll may have been added to amp up the color. Of course, taste and smell are critical factors in judging a fresh extra-virgin olive oil. “Olive oil is really a fruit juice from the olive fruit,” she says. “It is perishable and must be fresh.”
There are so many intriguing flavors of olive oil and balsamic vinegar available, it can be overwhelming to decide which to pair together, not to mention what to do with them. Heiland shares a few delicious pairings to get started.
Fruity Sensation: Pair blackberry-ginger balsamic vinegar with lemon extra-virgin olive oil for a delicious vinaigrette. “Drizzle over everything,” she says.
Tropical Timeout: The vibrant combination of lime and coconut has long been popular in everything from cocktails to desserts. For a savory spin on this festive flavor, blend coconut balsamic vinegar with lime extra-virgin olive oil. “This is great on shrimp,” Heiland says.
Spice It Up: Pair jalapeño balsamic vinegar with Baklouti green chili pepper, basil, or Persian lime extra-virgin olive oils. “It’s not hot, but it has great flavor,” she says, suggesting that this delicious blend can be added to a stir fry, coleslaw, or jicama.