For someone who doesn’t enjoy cooking, I spend a lot of time around food.
I guess that’s not a big revelation. I love food, just not the process of making meals. How I long for one of those Star Trek gizmos that just produces out of thin air exactly what you want to eat. No muss, no fuss, and no time spent preparing it. Alas, that will probably not be something I can get in my lifetime. Those people of the future are lucky.
To make my life a bit easier, I am always on the lookout for simple recipes, and for really good ingredients. Things that will help with my oh-so-basic abilities in the kitchen. I’ve found quite a few products like this here in Niagara.
Hmmm…maybe this should become a series.
So I’ll start it off by talking about OLiV.
I was introduced to the OLiV products when I first moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake. They were hosting an event for local B&B owners at their Queen Street location. Ken and I are always looking for creative breakfast ideas, and they promised to provide us with some. I remember being skeptical, thinking “Breakfast? Oils and Vinegars for breakfast?”. Besides using the oil for cooking eggs, my culinary imagination was stumped. So we went to the event, and I was excited by some of the ideas they gave us.
For example, most B&B’s serve a fruit course to start breakfast with. Though Ken is our breakfast chef, he has absolved himself of all fruit responsibility, leaving it completely to me (thanks a bunch, Ken!). Not being a huge fruit eater myself, I am always puzzling over ways to make it tasty – you can only eat so many yogurt parfaits and melon wedges. I also want the preparation of it to be easy, and quick. Well, OLiV’s Flavoured White Balsamics have really come to my rescue here. Drizzle any of them over fruit, and presto! – Fruit is forever changed. It certainly has changed the Highbrook fruit course.
Because of this, I thought that they might have some other ideas for me.
Brad manages the OLiV store at the Outlet Collection. We spent a little bit of time together one afternoon, and he gave me a lot of suggestions to make my cooking life easier.
I’m a big fan of OLiV’s true Balsamic Vinegars and Extra Virgin Olive Oils. Just mixing and matching different oils and vinegars quickly gives me a great base for many meal ideas.
Like this one. Just think of blending their Jalapeno EVOO and Peach White Balsamic.
Salad will never be the same. I might actually be persuaded to eat more of them because of this creation. Thanks Brad.
But that’s not all. Over the course of our talk, he gave me tips for using OLiV’s products in just about everything. Drinks, main courses, marinades, side dishes. Even desserts.
Which was what we tried next. A Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie, using their Butter Flavoured EVOO.
Beside the scrumptious cookie is a sample of their Cask 18 Dark Balsamic.
Now let’s talk about Dark Balsamics. They’ve always been a bit of a mystery to me. I don’t make a lot of marinades or barbecue sauces, and for me they are usually a tad too strong for salad dressings. Brad suggested I try them with fruit – yes, more magical ways of serving fruit! Think of strawberries with their Chocolate Balsamic. Pears or pineapples with their Caramel Balsamic. Aside from the classic Cask 18, OLiV has many different flavours of Dark Balsamic. Caramel. Espresso. Chocolate Jalapeno, and more. Even Grapefruit!
And in addition to all of these culinary possibilities, Balsamic Vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil have many health benefits.
One of my favourite goodies that day had to be the Balsamic Blast. I drink a ton of water through the course of the day, but it can get really boring. So listen to this easy way to fancy up your water. Take some White Balsamic Vinegar (Flavoured, or just plain White), on ice if you wish, and blend with sparkling water. Simple, and delicious! I will now be spending a small fortune on Flavoured White Balsamic Vinegars. You see, I need to have a variety of choices for making this at home. I can’t just have Peach or Tropical Passion all the time – delicious though they are. Variety is the spice of life! Or water.
That day I had a mix of Pineapple and Coconut.
And oh……think of the cocktail possibilities as well.
So let’s sum this up so far. I now had ideas for cookies, salad dressings, marinades, fruit dressings, drinks. All that’s left is meal ideas. Of which they have plenty.
At the Outlet Collection location, you can also get meals. Soups, salads, sandwiches and pastas are on offer every day, all showcasing their products. On the menu list you can see which of their oils and vinegars have been used. Their website also has lots of recipes.
As you might remember, I recently enjoyed their Tuesday $10 Artisanal Pizza special. So yummy, and really such a deal. But now on Thursdays, they are offering Tapas Trio Burgers. Not just any old burgers though.
You get 3 sliders – mixing and matching different meats, salmon, or even a veggie Portobello mushroom option. Now you may be thinking “Just sliders? That’s not very much.” Trust me, the portions are very satisfactory. Just look at the picture below. You also get a choice of side dish. All for $16.
I really liked the ability to mix and match and try different ones. I had the Angus Beef, Salmon, and Pulled Pork. I would have loved to try the Portobello slider too. Ken had the Bison, Cheesesteak, and Pulled Pork. I think my favourites were the Cheesesteak and Bison. I stole bites of them from Ken.
I love the fact that they have such a variety of offerings at the restaurant – pizzas, burgers, Sunday brunch, and their regular menu, all showcasing their vast array of products. Also, on Sunday afternoons from February 7th until March 13th they will be hosting Jazz and Oysters. Listen to Niagara’s finest Jazz musicians, alongside a menu featuring oysters and seafood using their Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.
Now really, what else could they possibly think of? From my fruit at breakfast, to my daily dose of Balsamic Blast water, to any number of ways to make delicious meals, they really do amaze me with all the things they think up.
I look forward to seeing what they can come up with next.
***Disclosure- My sliders were generously provided by OLiV Tasting Room and Restaurant, but all opinions are my own.