My latest culinary adventure took Alison Bermant and me to Tahoe Oil & Spice. We stepped inside the downtown Truckee shop and the intoxicating aroma of herbs, spices, oils and the sweet scent of vinegars filled the air. Bermant was on a mission to procure her favorite honey ginger balsamic vinegar, which she uses in salad dressing.
The aisles were lined with large silver dispensers holding 20 infused olive oils; six fresh, crushed green olive oils and three specialty oils, including black truffle oil, white truffle oil, toasted sesame oil and a whopping 41 types of balsamic vinegars.
Carla Embertson, a Tahoe Oil & Spice employee, greeted us and took us on a tour of flavors. She was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate. She helped us navigate the vast selection of oils and spices, offering suggestions, pairings and recipe ideas.
The oils are infused with natural ingredients, herbs and spices such as garlic, roasted onion, cilantro, basil, leek or herbs de Provence, while others might be infused with lemon, blood orange and even chocolate.
The oils and balsamic vinegars were labeled with flavor profiles, ingredient origin and suggestions for what to pair them with. The oils are infused with natural ingredients, herbs and spices such as garlic, roasted onion, cilantro, basil, leek or herbs de Provence, while others might be infused with lemon, blood orange and even chocolate. The oils are perfect for dipping with crusty sourdough bread, for drizzling over salads or for cooking meats and vegetables.
The first olive oil we tasted was an infused pesto oil.
“We got the pesto oil in before Christmas and it promptly became my holiday obsession,” said Embertson as she handed us each a small tasting cup. “Feel that heat afterward.”
We took a sip and there it was, a hit of rich basil flavor and the heat of the Calabrian Italian pepper. It was good. Embertson suggested we toss the oil with pasta. I agreed this would make for a delicious meal.
We tried an olive wood-smoked olive oil. It was earthy. Embertson paired the olive wood-smoked oil with a black-cherry balsamic and used it as a marinade on pork and lamb. I thought the combination would be great on grilled steak or portobello mushrooms.
The mushroom sage olive oil reminded me of the holidays. Embertson suggested pairing it with their cranberry pear balsamic — great to use in stuffing or drizzled on a roast chicken. The harissa-infused olive oil and the herbs de Provence-infused oils were both flavorful and delicious.
We moved from oils to exploring the balsamic vinegars, which are aged 16 to 18 years. She suggested mixing some flavored balsamic with seltzer to create a mocktail. The flavored balsamic would be great with tequila or vodka and seltzer for a summery cocktail.
The black-cherry balsamic was fabulous. I purchased a bottle and a bottle of the herbs de Provence oil. I also loved both the dark and light raspberry balsamic. The pomegranate quince and elderberry balsamics were both unique and delicious. Bermant and I tasted several pairings and were excited about what we would prepare with our purchases.
The shop also has a large spice selection. The Louisiana fish seasoning, rib rub, a Tahoe pepper blend, Jamaican jerk seasoning, black truffle seasoning and a spicy Thai seasoning all caught my eye. Tahoe Oil & Spice has other items as well that are great for gifts or making dinners pop.
I love exploring new flavors. The shop offers a treasure trove of flavorful oils, vinegars and spices that will elevate salads and take meals to the next level.
Tahoe Oil & Spice is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. | (530) 550-8857, tahoeoilandspice.com