No offense, but a lot of you out there are doing olive oil completely wrong. Somewhere along the line, you read somewhere, or somebody told you, that olive oil was the healthiest of all the oils in the world, chock full of good stuff like monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. And because we all want to live forever, you ran down to the nearest supermarket, saw that the name brand stuff was pretty expensive, and settled on a bottle of the store brand. After all, Rachael Ray just says grab some EVOO — she never really says what kind. And since the difference between the more mundane corn, canola, and mixed vegetable oils aren't all that noticeable, you're to be forgiven this mistake. Olive oil isn't like those other oils, though, because the subtle differences of style, type of olive, and method of pressing makes for a wide range of tastes and flavor profiles.
Like wine, understanding the different flavors of olive oil can be confusing, which is where the Strippaggio Center in the Promenade shopping center comes in. There, a knowledgeable staff awaits the olive oil novice, and every flavor of oil is labeled with a name and brief description about what to expect from the flavor. Want to get even more in-depth? Strippaggio also allows for in-store tastings of all their oils (as well as their diverse balsamic vinegars), allowing someone used to Great Value brand oil to experience an entirely new world of oils that range in flavor from bright and floral to deeper and peppery. And with bottles ranging starting at around $10, the whole experience is one that can be had for a very reasonable price.
Olive oil and vinegar tasting may sound strange, and it's certainly a new thing for Central Arkansas. Don't get the wrong idea — you won't be slugging down glasses of olive oil at Strippaggio. What you will be doing is getting a small taste to see how the oil begins on the tongue, how it finishes, with somebody well-versed in oil available to provide serving suggestions and vinegar pairings. Similar to how one might pick a favorite coffee or tea, Strippaggio takes the guess-work out of olive oil and vinegar in a way that is unique — and quite a lot of fun as well. So throw that bottle of Kroger brand oil right in the trash and head to West Little Rock: a new world of olive oil awaits.