RTF: Sharing a way of life

The confusion associated with walking up to the olive oil aisle in a grocery store left Tyler and Carry Guell fed up with their cooking experiences as they often ended up at home, opening a new bottle of olive oil and feeling defeated with its lack of or even overpowering flavors. Their very own olive oil and fine vinegar boutique soon became the answer to these problems. Tyler and Carry Guell are the happy couple that founded Olivada, nestled on the river of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Beyond housing the freshest olives oils accompanied by fine balsamic vinegars Tyler and Carry wanted to offer the customer an experience. Therefore, the shopper is able to sample anything in the store before purchase. This is a part of understanding your food deeper in order to enjoy it to its fullest advantage. The amount of oils and vinegars range far and wide while many customers know very little about the different flavors and accents. Tyler and Carry take the time to truly explain to their customers how to understand the flavors before even bottling it for them in house.

For example the one of the many honey balsamics is taken like a half shot out of a small plastic cup and then swirled around in your mouth until the flavors are in full effect. The acidity of balsamic holds many different flavors, especially when they are infused. Allowing the taste buds to gather the balsamic’s key notes gives the individual a full idea of how it can be enjoyed best. While using your senses to do this it is easy to fantasize about the endless dishes it would enhance, and soon find yourself wanting to sample the entire row.

On the other hand, sampling the oils is done a bit differently. The shopper is instructed to cover the small cup while rubbing the bottom on your palm. This warms the oil and prepares you for a full experience. After about 30 seconds of this you are to breath in the oil, smelling the different undertones. Finally, you slowly sip the oil and let it rest on your tongue while sliding down your throat. You are essentially using a majority of your senses to not only taste the oil but also understanding the olives and their strengths. This is a learning experience that helps to connect the customer with oil they are destined to cook with.

The wore down shipping warehouses lining Sheboygan’s river have become home to a variety of funky hipster cafes, fine English pubs, health food stores and more allowing Olivada to fit in as well as a missing puzzle piece. The establishment has only been in working service for about a year but their expertise with oils and vinegars really sets them apart and allows business to do very well. This unique approach to selling oils and vinegars stems from their own frustration and encourages them to offer a sampling of all products sold as well as bottling everything in store before purchase.

After being greeted with a gust of air conditioning you find yourself face to face with a wall of dark bottles. Below each is a small description of the vinegars location, flavorings and pairings. Recipes are sprinkled among the bottles and featured in the center of the store is the island of oils. These olive oils are 100% pure extra virgin coming from the northern and southern hemispheres allowing Olivada to offer the freshest oils. Any of the staff members will gleefully explain that there are only two time frames a year when olives are crushed. Due to Olivada gathering oils from both hemispheres they are receiving oils twice a year when those olives were crushed, leading to the freshest product available. These different olives coming from both the northern and southern hemispheres allows the oil to range in flavor from a more grassy and earthy undertone to the buttery and rich flavors.

The idea of Olivada is to avoid selling a vinegar or oil to someone who is not truly invested in its flavor. Food is to be enjoyed and experienced and the Italians believe that olive oil is an ingredient that unleashes flavors in foods that would not otherwise be tasted. The vinegars offer a way to enhance ingredients through adding wholesome acidity. Olivada is not only selling these product but rather sharing a way of life.

All hail oil and vinegar.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

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It’s not summer until you have a BBQ!

  

Its been a while since I’ve posted but at least there is still sun-shining summer weather in lovely Wisco. However, in order to be able to fully label these months as summer I needed to be able to check off a bumpin’ BBQ from my summertime bucketlist. As the days were getting shorter and the clock was ticking closer to that time of year filled with studying and football games, my bestie and I decided to get creative and throw an End of Summer BBQ for all our loves at home in Sheboygan. We are the kind of friends that have fun cooking, eating, shopping, and repeating! I think in our past lives we were attached at the brain, so who else better to throw a BBQ with. As soon as we came up with the idea there was no stopping us as we were fast at work making homemade invites and drooling over possible recipes.

The few requirements we had were that it was outside, the grill was fired up, we had a drink with limes and all of our friends were in attendance. Then the fun part of creating the menu began… we decided what better to have in the summer time than some gud ‘ol burgers! Since I have a soft spot for California cuisine and avocados we choose to have a CA burger with chipolini onions, avocado, heirloom tomatoes and lettuce. The other must have when grilling out are Sheboygan Hardrolls, from the crazed about City Bakery. This lead us to the creation of the Sheboygan burger with sharp cheddar cheese, sautéed onions, heirloom tomatoes and lettuce.

As for sides we attempted to follow some tasty looking recipes for sweet potato chips and zucchini fries but fell short of success. The finished products were far from presentable but still some of our friends were brave enough to sample the wilted and pathetic attempts at chips and fries. This was a failed attempt but we will try again and perfect turning our favorite veggies into our favorite snacks! There was also classic corn on the cob boiled and roasted along with grilled zucchini rounds and sliced watermelon.

The dessert was my personal favorite but unfortunately our guests pigged out on their BBQ feasts a little to much to really enjoy the tasty treats. My favorite sweet tooth satisfier is obviously dark chocolate but I needed to sweeten this up for all the mouths we were feeding. In order to do this I discovered a quick and dirty homemade caramel sauce recipe to fill dark chocolate cups with. The additional sea salt sprinkled on top made these a hot commodity that I am dying to make again VERY soon!

The second dessert was something my mom stumbled upon this past winter. We attempted to make our own ice cream but opted for a healthier version, that is disguised very well. We bought about a dozen bananas, peeled them and stuck them in the freezer over night. The next day a few hours before the BBQ I popped them in my mom’s Vitamix blender and pureed them until smooth. The left over caramel sauce along with various toppings allowed us to have a sundae funday ice cream bar!

Even though we were left with mountains of leftovers the adventure of throwing our first “dinner party” was a success and something we will continue to perfect over the years. What better way to spend time with your friends than sharing a great meal under the summer sky!

Cheers y’all and can’t wait for the next BBQ, bon appetit.

The-too-good-to-do-anything-else dish…

The dish I just finished licking my plate of was way too good to let sit in my word documents waiting to be shared with the world and also is just too damn good to be named. Caprese doesn’t do justice to the way this tomato, mozzarella, basil and balsamic dish is prepared. Comments or ideas on possible names please come rolling in, I will need help with this one!!

I guess I’ll give you the juicy details so you can recreate it in your sweet smelling home…. So start off by liberally dousing sweet cherry tomatoes with olive oil and salt. Place them in the oven at 425 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes letting them roast and explode! While these are roasting get started on the balsamic glaze. I found the recipe online at Simply Recipes and it is oh so simple. Reduce half a cup of balsamic with two teaspoons of sugar over high heat until it thickens. Plate the tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, rip up fresh basil and then drizzle the balsamic glaze all over the place (adding salt to the finished meal if needed). Try this and you may never want to eat a caprese salad any other way.

Next up is figuring out what else I can make with this DIVINE balsamic glaze… bon appetit!

Portabella Marsala Sando.

This post is almost one of my favorites because this sandwich is out of this world and will definitely be featured in a future cookbook!! Lunch was aproaching quickly and we had some portabella mushrooms calling our names.. what to do, what to do?? We decided to get a bit adventurous and created marsala mushrooms with portabellas and slapped them in-between some veggies and bread, waalaa.

The preparation of the mushrooms was like any other marsala preparation. Slice the mushrooms and sauté them in butter and when they are on the edge of being done add a splash of marsala cooking wine to caramelize them. Make sure to add the marsala at the end because adding this essentially finishes cooking the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have a nice coating of marsala feel free to continue cooking for a few more minutes.

When creating the sandwich you can choose whatever you like but we sliced up some fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, last nights grilled zucchini and shreds of fresh basil.

Bon appetit to turning a dinner entrée into a tasty sandwich.

Not MJ’s Beets.

This post is no where near Michael Jackson’s hit single Beat It but almost as good and hopefully soon to be as popular!! Searching for a good summer recipe to go along with the large bundle of beets we just purchased from the farmer’s market we came across the website Simply Recipes highlighting a Roasted Beet with Balsamic Glaze. From time to time I go on a beet craze and ever since I returned from China this was a vegetable I was dying to dine on. The recipe was as simple as the name of the website (SimplyRecipes) and took only a few tries to perfect.

  

The beets are roasted at 400 degrees for an hour or two, depending on how large the beets are. It’s important to rub with olive oil and salt in order to give more flavor and to avoid drying them out while roasting. Poke the beets after about an hour every so often in order to find out when they are ready to be taken out.

The best part isn’t with the roasting but instead the Balsamic Glaze drizzled over top!! It may take a few attempts but start with a small, shallow sauce pan and add the balsamic vinegar and sugar in order to reduce into a syrup. When the beets are finished roasting chop them up to the size you prefer and pour the balsamic glaze over. We choose to grate some citrus zest over the top, whatever you have available would work, but we went for orange adding an extra bite to the dish.

These are a great snack or an accompaniment to any meal and can be served hot or cooled, or even in a salad. To find the original recipe visit SimplyRecipes online.

  

Not to mention cooking with beets always makes for some fun artwork, even though mother always told me never to play with my food, bon appetit!

A Sweet Summer Salad.

If there was one fruit that I would describe as sweet summer loving it would be watermelon. This colorful melon is so thirst quenching when the degrees start racking up as well as being extremely versatile. Slices of watermelon is hardly a snack you can go wrong with but what about adding some chili powder or lime sprinkled over the top, it’s easy to get creative and always rewarding. My favorite watermelon concoction is a salad with feta, Kalamata olives, onions and lime. All these flavors combined can create an addicting snack or the perfect side dish for any summer meal.

The recipe I used was Nigella Lawson’s and the reason I choose to use one is because she has an interesting approach to getting the flavors to really blend well. Her advice for the onions is to soak them in the lime juice so they lose some of the bite onions can dominate a salad with. When working with watermelon this is an especially helpful tip.

The rest of her ingredients include black olives but I like the flavor of Kalamata olives instead, and make sure to get pitted olives for maximum enjoyment. Nigella also chooses to add mint and parsley to go along with the tartness of lime and rich flavor of feta allowing for everything to compliment each other giving your taste buds a ride of their life.

The recipe can be found at http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/watermelon-feta-and-black-olive-salad-205, however if you google a Watermelon Feta salad you can find a list of other combinations that suit your style.

Bon appetit and enjoy your sweet summer salads.

Dining as Venecian Goddesses.

As my last night in lovely Sheboygan my mom and I walked along the river front to dine at Lino’s Ristorante Italiano. This is one of the newest additions to the South Pier located with the Sheboygan River and Lake Michigan on either side of the peninsula. When we moved to Sheboygan this peninsula was covered with weeds and wild bushes. Today it has a breezy pathway outlining the whole peninsula and decorated with various boutiques and restaurants. Lino Autiero and Marco Rossi are long time friends who have landed in Sheboygan in order to help establish the restaurant scene and add flare to what was once a deserted piece of land. With the summer sun setting we decided to sit outside and enjoy our meal only a few feet from the calm Sheboygan River. The scenic views with the lake in the background made the environment divine and as if we were nestled in Venice itself.

We started off with a bottle Lino’s choice of wine, a Ripassa, and after only a few glasses we were fully enjoying our time in bliss. Our choice of appetizer was of course a basket of homemade bread, accompanied for dipping was an aged olive oil and balsamic vinegar, my absolute favorite start to a meal. After exploring the menu and hearing the specials I choose the cheese and spinach tortellini with lobster and a light cream sauce. It was a bit rich but was just perfect for a splurging type of night.

My mom sampled the special Venice which was a chop and unfortunately not what she intended to order but covered in the most delectable mushrooms and a tasty pasta as the side.

Next up was desert after much convincing by our new best friend, or waitress. We opted for something light and shared the mandarin orange sorbet imported from Italy and served in the rind of the orange. It was divine but I must contest that I feel that it would have tasted the same or better had it been grow and assembled on this side of the pond. As much as I love Italian food much of the good meals have their produce and various endless ingredients imported from Italy, making the meal incomparable but the allowing the carbon foot print to sky rocket. Although sometimes, just sometimes I allow myself the ability to justify indulging in the fine foods, regardless of when they are carted from. My Slow Foodies wouldn’t appreciate this as much but we will keep that on the hush hush.

Our meal was now approaching three hours long and we were close acquaintances with Lino as we learned about his amazing adventures and the Italian lemons. This lead to a sample of his special Limoncello, imported from Italy, made with the purest and largest lemons that are only found covering the streets of his home town in Italy. I am able and strong enough to take a shot but this was sweet like desert with a punch in the face that gave me goosebumps.

We were now satisfied with fully bellies and a buzzing head. The atmosphere and company made this a special night and I am eager to explore the rest of the menu.

Bon Appetit.

 

823 Michigan Avenue

Where else would you rather enjoy a summer sunset than on top of the new and improved El Camino! A bunch of us decided to head downtown Shevegas for margs and delectable Mexican food. El Camino once upon a time was only big enough for three tables with a capacity of maybe 75 people. Now the renovated restaurant has two full bars with enough room for seating down stairs, up stairs and outside on the brand new patio. Half of us sat around catching up and sipping on divine lime margaritas during happy hour enjoying them at two for only six dollars!

The expansion of the restaurant has not allowed the quality of service or food to falter as we all enjoyed our meals and I even explored authentic Mexican cuisine with a lengua taco, TONGUE! I attempted to find out where their meat came from before ordering so I could make a somewhat wise decision. Our waiter explained that it is from a “store” in Milwaukee, allowing me to justify that it is kind of local. This is not ideal when choosing to eat an unusual part of the animal, but when choosing something as bizarre as tongue off a menu it usually indicates that the restaurant purchases full animals. This is pushing them to explore the chefs culinary skills by cooking all odds and ends of the animal and usually, not always, but usually full animals are purchased from local farms. With Milwaukee roughly an hour away I made the executive decision that this was considered local and there for ordered one tongue taco with a corn tortilla.

Despite what people may prefer, corn tortillas in my opinion are the obvious choice when choosing to eat Mexican cuisine. If you are going to go as far as to situation yourself in an ethnic restaurant and sample food other than American then whey wouldn’t you do so fully. Flour tortillas are the western (American) influence on authentic Mexican cuisine, and mask many flavors. The corn tortillas, on the other hand, compliment the other ingredients the way they are meant to be enjoyed. Allergies aside, there really is no excuse for ordering flour, just saying!

Bon appetit to having adventurous taste buds.

A morning surprise.

What’s the best thing about waking up in the morning? In my opinion, it’s the smell of breakfast. As I have stated in past posts I am not a breakfast fan so when I report about a breakfast spot or treat it means they are GOOD, GREAT possibly even FANTABULOUS.. or basically out of this world!

This scrumptious taste of heaven is from Trader Joe’s, and is definitely on the list of being one of TJ’s Bests. I have snapped a picture of the croissants but they come in a variety oftreats. Others that I enjoy are the cinnamon rolls that we add nuts to or the chocolate croissants. They are found in a teeny box tucked in the freezer section of any Trader Joe’s grocery store. The tricky part is they must be thawed over night. This allows the dough and yeast to proof so in the morning when you pop them in the oven they come out crispy but so airy and chewy on the inside. I love making these and trying to pull off as if I am a french chef who has slaved away perfecting this buttery croissant.

Here they have been proofing all night and we love to coat it with an egg-wash so they are shinny and have a crispier crust. Next they will be ready to bake, oooh I can’t wait for the finished product.

 

The final product oooh yum yummmm….

Bon Appetit thanks to Trader Joe’s.

Hello Sheboygan Dining.

Sheboygan is home of Johnsonville brats paired with a Hard Roll. In the summer this delicious combination added with your favorite fixings are found all over Shevegas! However, there are many more delicious Sheboygan staples that are year round.

My first and absolute favorite is the Weather Center Cafe. This is an eclectic, artsy café nested in with many other shops andrestaurants on The Sheboygan River front. Their Weather Center salad with homemade spinach vinaigrette is a refreshing choice that pleases everyone’s palate. Pair this with one of their daily fresh-baked scones or muffins and you may never want to leave. Over winter break I have camped out there almost every other day having lunches with all my pals. It is also ideal in the summer as well by taking a walk and having breakfast outside soaking up the sun. The best of all is that a Sheboygan local, Teek, owns it and serves his community by creating fresh, real food! (Photo retrieved from http://sheboyganwalkingtours.com/Howland.html).

The next stop is Italy at Stefano’s Il Ritrovo. This restaurant is one of Stefano’s four restaurants in Sheboygan but my friends and I have coined Il Ritrovo as the best. It is an Italian Pizzeria with all the ingredients imported straight from Italy. The menu consists solely of appetizers, soups, salads and pizzas, but that is all you need to choose from because they are the best! I won’t suggest my favorites because you simply can’t go wrong here.

Attached to Il Ritrovo is an Italian deli and grocery store that separates it from Stefano’s other restaurant, Field to Fork. This restaurant is exactly what it sounds like and follows Stefano’s theme of serving organic and locally grown food. Almost anything on this menu can be purchased in the deli or grocery. They also have a phenomenal juice bar that serves fresh fruit juices and exotic green drinks. My favorite here is the “Green Drink” which is a blend of apple or pears, lemon, ginger, wheat grass, spinach and lettuce. Have this for breakfast and you are bound to obtain super powers! (Photo retrieved from http://www.trattoriastefano.com/about_us.html).

The fourth restaurant is ideal for a fancy-pants meal with your family or loved one. The Blackwolf Run Restaurant is located in Kohler Wisconsin, a part of the well-known Blackwolf Run Golf Course. This elegant yet cozy restaurant is gorgeous in the winter because of its dark wood and warm feeling it leaves you with. However, in the summer the large glass windows, framing the golf course below you, accompany the wonderful meal. Chef Paul Smitala knows how to combine perfectly paired ingredients always creating a masterpiece. One masterpiece, the Corn Sausage Chowder, has become very popular around Kohler and Sheboygan, especially on a cold winter night. (Photo retrieved from http://www.americanclubresort.com/restaurants/bwr_restaurant.html)


You can always find a good meal or cool place to hang out in Sheboygan and even though the name may sound silly, don’t let it fool you!

Bon Appetit on the Michigan shore.