VIENNA, Va., January 16, 2013 — Tysons Corner Mall, just outside of Washington, DC in Virginia, is an over-crowded mecca of cookie-cutter stores, all looking alike, until you come upon this little bit of Italian culinary heaven.
On the lower level, basically between L.L. Bean and Nordstrom, stands the quaint little store, Under the Olive Tree, a gourmet cook’s delight with enough variety to suit the rest of us cooks as well.
Technically the shop bills itself as “a purveyor of Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars from around the world,” and a listing of them would exceed our word limit. Each oil is ready for tasting by turning the spigot of one of the large urns and letting a small sample to flow into a little paper cup.
Presided over by Marcel Beraud, his wife Fabiana and their lovely daughter, Marie Claire, the shop exudes a wonderful scent, a treat in itself as you wander around.
The oils come from various parts of the world such as Tunisia, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and more. On site at each plantation is a mill that starts the oil-making process from freshly picked green olives.
It’s a special process rapid enough to capture the freshest flavor as well as the highest quantity of health benefits. All olive oils are pressed cold and come from either natural or certified organic trees, producing the finest flavors.
Balsamic vinegars are also featured, with every flavor and concoction of tastes imaginable. My first selection was a dark chocolate flavored balsamic, which added a warm flavor to a salad caprese that is quite rewarding.
I also picked up a Chipotle EVOO, since spicy oil sounded delicious, and it was added to fresh pasta. The next visit I opted for a Basil EVOO, again a pleasing greenish taste.
In addition to the variety of oils and vinegars, a number of excellent pastas are available, all made in Virginia. I have a Red Pepper Fettuccine awaiting its taste test. For those who favor Mexican food and love chimichurri, small packets of a great chimichurri mix are available, which is spicy but very good.
There are other special spices presented with my personal favorite being a bottle of Black Truffle Sea Salt. While the tiny black flakes are easily seen, you have only to remove the top to catch the easily defined truffle flavor. A pinch of it in béchamel adds a definite spark!
Special tastings are frequent, usually on weekends. White Truffle Week started on January 11 will continue through Jan. 18 at 12:45 p.m.
Owner Beraud told me there are 24 flavors of balsamic vinegars, and 11 fused and infused EVOOs as well as four special oils, something for every palate.
When visiting Tysons Corner Mall, be sure to go down to the lower level and check out this relative newcomer inspired by the flavors of Tuscany. I guarantee you’ll be back for a return visit. The Berauds are friendly and helpful and the stock is outstanding. Their web site is found at www.undertheolivetree.net
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