WESTPORT, Conn. — Vintage wines and premium olive oil share many characteristics. A trained connoisseur can tell the origin of either by taste, for example. But unlike wine, you don’t want to use olive oil from 1886.
“Wine gets better with age,” said Dee Lawrence, who was selling olive oil and balsamic vinegar with his wife, Alina, at the Westport Farmers Market on Thursday. But “olive oil is best when fresh.”
Alina and Dee co-own Olivette, a boutique olive oil purveyor with stores in Darien and Westport. They were one of the many vendors at the Westport market this week.
Unlike supermarkets that may sell olive oil that has been sitting on a shelf for three to four years, the Lawrences sell their olive oil fresh.
Alina knows olive oil well. A trained olive oil taster, the South Norwalk resident has attended programs in Europe and at University of California at Davis.
One of the few people truly trained in olive oil tasting on the East Coast, Alina she sees her role at the market as educating people about olive oil.
One misconception about olives is that they are, in fact, a fruit — just a plumb or a cherry, Alina said.
"Olive oil is actually a fresh fruit juice,” Lawrence added.
While many American consumers think of olive oil as a topping on a salad, Alina said that some Europeans see olive oil as a beauty product.
“We used to put olive oil in our hair as kids,” Alina, who grew up in Europe, said.
Olives are grown in different continents. The Lawrences source their olive oil from California as well as Australia and Chile along with Mediterranean countries such as Greece.
They also sell balsamic vinegar.
Unlike other balsamic products on the market, the vinegar from the Lawrences doesn’t contain added sugar, a thickening agent such as corn starch, or caramel color.
“We want people to experience balsamic the way balsamic is meant to be produced,” Dee said.
For more information on the Lawrences' olive oil company, visit their website at www.olivettect.com/.
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