Visitors to the New Canaan Olive Oil store can peruse and sample six different varieties of extra virgin olive oil, 12 different flavored ones and 12 types of balsamic vinegar at Elm Street's newest establishment.
"I am obsessed with olive oil," store owner Heidi Burrows said. "We found this place and knew it was the perfect location and perfect size, and the town is really supportive. It all fell into place. We got really lucky."
The store, at 98 Elm St., will have an official grand opening with food provided by Rosie, the cafe at 27 Elm St., on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 3 to 7 p.m., but has been open for business since Sept. 19.
Lining the walls of the store are olive oil taps, called "fusties." Every kind is available for sampling with small pieces of bread left on a plate in the front of the store, along with various flavored sea salts and cane sugars.
And there are some unusual combinations. Basil olive oil might be standard fare, but there also is bacon flavored or blood orange flavored. The flavor and smell are infused.
"This is strong. I've never had olive oil like that before. Wow. That's potent," said Jamie Jackson, in reaction to a Sevillano extra virgin olive oil.
Jackson, who lives in Manhattan and was visiting New Canaan with his wife, SoHee Youn, and her mother, came into the store while walking on Elm Street Monday afternoon. The trio ended up buying basil-infused olive oil and organic coconut sugar.
Burrows is a relative newcomer to the area. She and her husband, Travis, moved to Stamford a year-and-a-half ago. The couple got interested in olive oil when they decided to attempt a diet completely free of processed foods.
"We used a ton of olive oil and started learning about it and its different qualities," Burrows said.
She learned that the best place to buy olive oil is from California growers because some of the product imported from Europe that is labeled extra virgin is diluted with cheaper olive oils, she said. California's regulations are strict. She learned that harvesters pick the olives at different times to get different flavored oils. The earlier a farmer picks the olives, the more bitter and pungent its oil. The longer it ripens, the milder it becomes, she explained.
Not completely satisfied with her career -- she's jumped from sales and mall leasing to working for a veterinarian -- Burrows decided to work on a business plan for an olive oil store. She and her husband saved up money, and her neighbor in Stamford, Dan Clauson, invested capital after she explained the project one day. Clauson's sister, Emilie, a graphic designer and artist, designed all the labels for the store, Burrows said.
Although the official opening is not until this weekend, business has been good so far.
"Most people that come in have a lot of fun being able to taste what we have," she said. "And I think when people can taste what they like, they're more inclined to buy it. That's good for the consumer because they know better what they're getting, and it's better for me because thery're buying something."
"OK, I'm going to get this one," Llewellyn said, eyeing the bacon-infused flavor.
"It's going to be insane for all the guys."
The store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, visit newcanaanoliveoil.com or call 203-594-7928.
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