When I walked into this charming shop in Carmel, I was immediately intrigued by the scores of bottles of olive oils and vinegars that stood ready to be tasted and enjoyed. (Shops like these are dangerous stores for my wallet!) Shop owner Steve Cuneo greeted me with a friendly smile, and took on my challenge of finding the perfect olive oil to enjoy on its own merits, without the flavors of food to interfere. After living in Italy, my tastes toward olive oil tend toward the more full-bodied varieties. However, I do love a great olive oil that is smooth and delicious – all by itself.
Steve delivered, and introduced me to an olive oil I bought immediately. A L’Olivier is perhaps the most buttery, smooth, heavenly olive oil you’ll ever taste without a meal to accompany it. Its texture is silky and its flavor is rich and memorable. And when I get home to my own kitchen, I’ll be sure to create a menu around its exceptional qualities – and post it here on Savor the Salt. Thank you, Steve, for introducing me to the olive oil that pleases my palate so perfectly!
Steve, too, was drawn in by this olive oil’s characteristics. As he told me, “The taste of this olive oil got me into the business more than 18 years ago. Though I didn’t go into the gourmet world right away, I knew I wanted to be a part of it in some way.” Years later, Steve and his wife Sharon purchased The Bountiful Basket and made it the shop it is today – a finely crafted haven for olive oils, wines, beers and tasty treats that will grace the chef’s kitchen. Try the Parmesan Crisps – they’re a cheese-lover’s dream.
As I tasted and compared, Steve offered these distinctive olive oils as a comparison to the French A L’Olivier that had me
- Carmel Valley Olive Company – Pale green color, very fruity and buttery. Perfect as a finishing oil.
- McEvoy Ranch – a local favorite and boutique olive oil from Petaluma, CA. Certified organic. Very olivey in taste, but quite nice. Would balance organic greens quite nicely.
- Merula – Spanish in origin, more vivid green than the others, more full-bodied in taste than the California oils. Great for cooking or salads.
- Malinas – Greek, distinctive olive oil. Heavier in taste than California varietals. Excellent for cooking.
- Santa Chiara Costa – Italian olive oil with a peppery finish that will withstand many preparations. Beautiful with lemon.
I can’t end this post without a vigorous nod to Steve and Sharon’s in-house creation: Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar. The blend has all the characteristics of a rich, aged balsamic, with the hint of tart fruit that transforms it on the tongue. I’ve ordered a bottle and will share recipes with you shortly. The shop offers more than 40 varieties of fruit, wine and champagne vinegars, but the pomegranate is my hands-down favorite.
Please stop by Bountiful Basket to round out your gourmet pantry or meet the winemaker.
Doud Craft Studios between Ocean and7th Avenue
Carmel, CA 93923