Have you ever been to an olive oil tasting room? I had once before, LeRoux Kitchen in Portsmouth, NH. Though I'm not much of a cook, I love using olive oil as salad dressing or as a dip for breads.
At Ellie's Oils, we met the owner, Matt Wirth. Matt opened the tasting room in August 2015 after nearly 10 years in the restaurant industry. When his daughter was born, he wanted to find a new gig that would keep him in the food world, but allow him the kind of hours where he could still spend plenty of time with his family. The shop is named after his daughter, Ellie.
Right when you walk in you'll notice a very cool looking piece that serves as the shop's checkout counter. Matt's friend made the counter top from a recycled piece of wood.
Hanging on the wall behind the register is the price list. I joked with Matt that he has excellent chalkboard hand writing. He said, "A friend did that writing for us. It's so perfect that now I feel like I can never change anything!"
The tasting room has 47 kinds of oils and vinegars. For all you chefs, think of the recipe potential!
Each oil is labeled and has a stack of paper tasting cups next to it so you can sample any variety that appeals to you. I was immediately drawn to the Cayenne Chile Pepper oil.
Matt very generously offered both of us a four pack of mini bottles to take home, so we started tasting very intentionally. I think I tried at least 20 of the 47 and I ultimately decided on the rosemary, the chipotle, the herbes de provence and the blood orange.
Once I made my selections, Matt sealed them up nice and tight with a heat gun.
Then each of the four bottles was placed in an adorable burlap gift bag. I asked Matt if these were popular during the holiday season and he said, "Oh yeah. We were very busy for the holidays." I can see why! These are a perfect hostess gift.
In addition to the oils and vinegars, Ellie's Oils also sells specialty pastas.
Between the oils, the pastas and a few other gourmet food items, you can really put together a very special gift basket.
After our olive oil tasting, we headed just a few minutes away to downtown Northampton. We parked in a garage behind Main Street that was free for the first hour and then $0.50 cents for each hour after that. Can you imagine if parking was that afforable in downtown Boston?
With about two hours until our next scheduled activity, we decided to bop in and out of the shops on Main Street. First we went to Artisan Gallery, which was a fun mix of art work, home decor, clothing and jewelry. I wound up finding a very unique pair of earrings that I can't wait to debut.
Of all the places we went into, Essentials was our favorite. It actually reminded me quite a bit of my favorite place in Inman Square in Cambridge, Boutique Fabulous. Essentials has great cards and stationary, including several designs that celebrate Northampton and the Pioneer Valley.
My best discovery at Essentials were these:
I know. A must.
After a solid two hours of shopping, we were ready to sit down again. Our next destination was inside Thornes Marketplace, the flagship building in downtown Northampton. More on that tomorrow!
*This post is sponsored by the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council. All opinions are 100 percent my own.