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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Liquid Gold

I've always been a fan of flavoured oils and vinegars, and usually always have a few bottles sitting around my kitchen.  I even bought a little 'carrying box' to house them.  I'm sure it was intended for something else (like holding kitchen utensils), but it works perfectly for this, and it looks pretty.  :)

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About six months ago, the wife went to Halifax for work, and happened across this store which specializes in flavoured and imported oils and vinegars.  That's nothing completely novel or unique, but this place does it particularly well.  They have a good mix of regional oils and some interesting flavour combinations.  Anyway, she loved the store, as she also has an appreciation for infused oils and vinegars, and needless to say, came home with close to a hundred dollars worth of products from there.

While I enjoy these ready-made mixes, I actually find (as I do with many ready-made products) that I prefer to make them myself at home.  I've got a couple of decent "drizzlers" with some upgraded self-closing, cork spouts (from Liquid Gold, incidentally), in which I usually keep a mix of either French-based or Italian-based herb-infused olive oil in the one, and a similar blend infused in some balsamic or red wine vinegar in the other.  I have a few other, smaller drizzlers which are for more radical flavours (currently, some blueberry balsamic, and some tarragon olive oil).

So, while I definitely do enjoy browsing (and tasting) a myriad of flavour-infused oils and vinegars, I invariably find it more cost-effective (not to mention fun!) to mix these up myself.  I usually always have a plethora of the necessary ingredients just sitting around, so it's just a matter of mixing them together.

I used to go a little crazy with things like using real garlic and onion, and while it does keep for a surprisingly long time just on the counter, it does start to get a little gross if you don't keep the levels topped up.  It IS delicious, however, and the one I've got on the go presently, is over 5 months old; I've just been topping it up every couple of weeks, and it is still very potent.

I'm not a biochemist, but I imagine that keeping the organic material completely submerged in the oil not only prevents oxidization, but also inhibits bacterial growth.  Doing the same in vinegar is probably even better, because the vinegar itself is slightly antiseptic, isn't it?

Anyway, although there haven't been any issues, I think for simplicity's and ease's sake, I'll just stick to dried herbs.  Fennel, oregano, savory, and bay are some of my favourites.  My normal method of diffusing fresh things (like garlic or onion) in oil - by lightly sauteing on low for a little while - just seems wrong for this application...  I could be wrong, but even though I'd likely strain the oil before bottling, something tells me it would not be a good idea to store previously-heated oil.  I dunno.  In any case, though, the raw onion and garlic actually infuse quite a bit of flavour in there anyway.  The only problem is, like I said, keeping that organic material adequately submerged all the time.

That said, the next time I pick up a pack of HOLY CHILI PEPPERS I'll probably mix up a "hot" oil.  I like the hot and spicy oil as a "finishing" oil.  

Something I don't think we North Americans do a whole lot with olive oils, is use them as a finish - i.e. drizzle over a completed dish just prior to serving - it provides excellent flavour and even adds some flair to plating, or presentation.

Anyway, to conclude this post, let me just say that the wife got sent to Halifax again this weekend, and is planning a dedicated trip to Liquid Gold Tasting Bar & All Things Olive.  This time, however, I planned ahead and picked out some items from their website beforehand.  Like I said before, I like to make my own flavoured oils, but this store does have an intriguing collection of regionally-based oils which I am excited to sample!

It's sad that I get excited about oils and vinegars... but, screw you, it's going to be awesome!

1 comment:

  1. I have tried making my own flavored vinegar and I usually end up throwing it out because I think it starts to taste "off". Have you made a fruit based vinegar ... say raspberry or blueberry?