Feeling trapped in the corporate life, spending the majority of her time travelling for work, and bogged down with unhealthy eating habits, Deb Manley knew that it was time to reevaluate some of her life choices. But where to begin? While on vacation in Bethlehem, PA, Manley walked into a specialty shop with the intent of purchasing a gourmet balsamic vinegar. She was persuaded by the owner to taste an extra virgin olive oil, and was amazed by the intense flavor of the oil. Upon further conversations with the owner, she realized that the oils were imported by Veronica Foods, located in Oakland, minutes from her current residence! The standards regarding the freshness and quality of the oils upheld by Veronica Foods were impressive, as they were more strict than the USDA as well as the California Olive Oil Council. Working in collaboration with Veronica Foods, Deb Manley and Jennifer Holden decided to open Pairings in Roseville, looking to meet the needs of the local foodies and health conscious residents.
Just a few moments with Manley is an amazingly educational experience about the world of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). While it seems to be fairly common knowledge that olive oil is a healthier alternative to other oils, do many consumers really know the reasons why? Manley is quick to share that extra virgin olive oil is the least processed form of olive oil and contains a range of beneficial plant compounds known as polyphenols. Pairings labels each of their oils not only with the source of harvest, but also with the polyphenol content and other essential information, allowing the consumer to understand exactly what is being purchased.
Upon walking into Pairings, you are greeted with a lovely open space, with gleaming stainless steel Fustis, or airtight containers, lining the perimeter filled with an abundant selection of extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars. After first smelling and tasting a common brand of EVOO found in most grocery stores, which really had no flavor or smell whatsoever, I was encouraged to sample a mild olive oil from Pairings. I was amazed at the difference, as the rich smell of olives filled my senses and I felt like I was sipping the nectar of a summer day. I then tried a medium oil, followed by a robust oil, enjoying the increasingly peppery, grassy flavors. Olive oil isn’t something I ever would have expected to describe as being spicy, but these rich flavors were quite reminiscent of the wonderful bite that garlic and other strong notes contain. A variety of infused oils are also available at Pairings, with the Tuscan Herb EVOO being a perfect companion to pasta with the earthy flavors of sun dried tomatoes, garlic, and Italian herbs. The Milanese Gemolata EVOO was light and fresh, with flavors of lemon, garlic, parsley, and mint being perfect drizzled over fish or used in a salad dressing.
Pairings specializes in finding the perfect companion for each EVOO on their shelves, and there is no shortage of possibilities. The Aged Cinnamon Pear Balsamic smelled and tasted like a cinnamon roll with a tang, while the Aged Dark Chocolate Balsamic left the flavors of three different chocolates dancing on my senses. However, the Dark Espresso Balsamic took top honors by being definitively the best thing I have ever tasted! Words cannot even describe the intense flavor; it is something that must be experienced first hand.
Pairings is the perfect way to tap into your inner chef, providing a unique tasting experience similar to wine tasting, offering exquisite pairings between all oils and vinegars available, as well as unique tested recipes. Pairings also has an amazing selection of herbs and fresh dried pasta, most of which only has two or three ingredients. For those interested in increasing their food knowledge, Pairings will also be offering classes such as Olive Oil 101, Perfect Pairings, and Healthy Baby Foods Utilizing Olive Oils.