Start with the Best
Want to add flavour and flair to any meal? Try adding olives or cooking with oil and vinegar. Oils and vinegars have always been popular, but with increasing interest in ethnic cuisines, many new kinds are being introduced to American gourmets.
As olives ripen they turn from green to purplish red to black. Green olives and black olives are the most popular kinds.
Green olives are very bitter in their natural state, but olive lovers acquire a taste for these. Green olives are more popular stuffed. Stuffed favorites include garlic, anchovies and peppers. Fully ripe black olives are much higher in oil.
There are many types of gourmet cooking oils. Olive oil and nut oils are the most popular. Oils are healthier and lower in trans-fats than shortening, lard and butter. Canola oil and flax seed oil are two oils low in fats.
Oils are often flavored with herbs and spices. You can actually make your own flavored oil by mixing herbs or spices into a favorite oil.
Vinegar comes from the French vin aigre, meaning "sour wine." As part of a marinade or dressing, vinegar can help bring out the essential flavors of any meats or vegetables.
There are several unique kinds of cooking vinegars:
- wine vinegar - authentic wine vinegars are formed by fermenting wine in oak barrels over several months. Kinds include sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar and balsamic vinegar
- cider vinegar - made from apple pulp.
- malt vinegar - a strong vinegar used for pickling
- spirit vinegar - the strongest vinegar, it contains some alcohol
- rice vinegar - popular for Asian cooking, it comes in many flavors and varieties
Olives, oils and vinegars are a great addition to any gourmet gift basket. Find fine flavors by clicking on the links above.