Connoisseurs know all about wine tastings: Wine is poured into a glass, you cup the glass (if it's a red wine) and swirl it to aerate, sniff the bouquet, taste it, and then describe it in certain wine-connoisseur terms such as "peppery" or "fruity" or "citrus" or "grassy."
Bumble Olive Oil Co. wants you to do the same thing with olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
Local entrepreneurs Joshua and Stephanie Harmon opened their store less than two weeks ago at Westfield Franklin Park mall, drawing crowds with their new-to-Toledo concept of an oil-and-vinegar store.
The walls are lined with fustini, those attractive metal casks filled with extra virgin olive oils on one side of the store and balsamic vinegars on the other in a host of flavors: The oils include Tuscan herb blend, basil, and extra-hot harissa, while the vinegars come tasting of Vermont maple, dark chocolate, and fig balsamic.
They have more than 50 flavors in all, including some oils that are made from a single variety of olive, oils that have been infused with flavors, aged balsamic vinegar (up to 18 years old), and balsamic vinegars that have been infused with flavors. The staff will help you with oil-and-vinegar flavor combinations (try the blood orange oil with the fig vinegar), or you can make them yourself.
These olive-oil stores have been around in other cities for years, but they usually concentrate almost entirely on the flavors of the products for cooking. Bumble Olive Oil Co. -- it's locally owned, not a chain -- is unusual in that it focuses just as much on the healthful qualities of the oil. Each oil fustino is labeled not only with a description of the taste but also the chemical properties of the oils, particularly the polyphenols, which have antioxidants and which may be anti-inflammatory.
The oils and vinegars sell for $9.95 for 200 ml (about 6 1/2 ounces), $15.95 for 375 ml (about 12 1/2 ounces), and $29.95 for 750 ml (about 25 ounces).
Do you make the best strawberry dessert in town?
Do you happen to have one ready? Or if not, can you make one quickly?
The 74th Holland Strawberry Festival is this weekend at 7807 Angola Rd. Along with carnival rides, a parade (which begins at noon and has a family-friendly Mardis Gras theme), music, and other events, the festival will feature a strawberry dessert bake-off.
The competition looks to be tough. Last year's first-place winner, Dakota Zimmerman, made a Strawberry Pretzel Dessert. Janell Polcwiartek took second with a Strawberry Coconut Cake, while Emmalee Segura was third with a Strawberry Almond Truffle. So to win the contest you clearly have to bring your A-game.
You also, as we mentioned, have to bring it quickly. The judging is at 3 p.m. today. All entries must be taken to the Strawberry Festival kitchen by 2:45 p.m., labeled with the name of the dessert and the baker.
The festival ends at 10 p.m.
There was a time when every serious chef and cook knew how to make a Sauce Espagnole, a slow-simmered, thick brown sauce made from beef and veal stock, aromatic vegetables, a little spice, and a bit of wine. And every serious chef and cook also knew how to make Sauce Tomate, a classical tomato sauce made with salt pork and aromatic vegetables.
But times change, and more cooking is done these days by people who just open a can.
The Fine Dining Cooking School (that's what they call it) at Degage Jazz Cafe wants to change that. On June 28 at 7 p.m., Joseph Jacobsen of the French Culinary Institute in New York will show how to make these two mother sauces and some of their derivative sauces. Mother sauces, according to Auguste Escoffier, are the five sauces that serve as the basis for all the sauces in classical French cuisine.
Appetizers also will be made during the class, and all students will get a glass of wine and will be able to keep whatever they make in the two-hour class.
The cost is $30, $25 for returning students. The class will be in Langley Hall, which is in the same building as Degage, 301 River Rd. in Maumee.
To register or for more information, call 419-794-8456, ext. 3
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