Shop offers ‘sensory experience’ — Savory olive oils, balsamic vinegars please the palate

Sequim Spice and Tea

139 W. Washington St., Sequim

683-2050

www.sequimspiceandtea.com

Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sunday

You don’t have to have the palate of an expert to enjoy new oil and vinegar offerings at Sequim Spice and Tea — just a sense of adventure.

Already having steady traffic in the three years it’s been in the heart of Sequim, the store sells culinary herbs, loose leaf and herbal teas, functional herbs plus gourmet sugars, salts and peppers.

Owners Marty and Char Martin and store manager Kaelyn Curran, plus other employees, have educated themselves well in the properties of each spice, tea and herb and now have added olive oil and vinegar to their expertise. Whether you’re a novice or a connoisseur, knowledgeable staff will walk you through the process of selecting a product that will enhance everything from entrees to desserts. Doubt that? Just go online to find dozens upon dozens of recipes using both.

Marty said they started thinking about adding ultra premium extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars about a year ago.

“A number of customers expressed disappointment that we weren’t selling them and we saw that as a missed sales opportunity,” he said. “We brought them on in February with a limited selection and received an overwhelming response. That doubled in early March and we have continued to add new products.”

After much research to find the finest quality for both, the Martins found a distributor of producers meeting the exacting standards of the ultra premium extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar industries. Marty explained there is quite the hierarchy of good, better, best in olive harvesting and manufacturing of olive oil all over the world.

“The distributor we chose was the highest in constant quality of all the oils we researched and the industry recognizes our distributor as one of the highest quality,” Marty said.

“It’s important to get across that our oil comes from around the world and our distributor follows harvest times. The oil is held to a certain quality for 14 months after being crushed on site and the selection of oil changes slightly wherever the olives are being harvested,” Curran said.

“The earlier the olives are picked, the higher the quality.”

“We carry nine offerings of Ultra Premium EVOO’s, 15 flavored olive oils, as well as specialty oils from nuts and seeds,” Marty explained. “In the balsamic vinegar sections, we carry 20 offerings of dark and white balsamic vinegars, as well as four wine vinegars.”

The shop sells all of the above in three sizes: 200 ml, 375 ml and 750 ml under the Martins’ proprietary brand of The Savory Drizzle, which they bottle themselves to assure freshness.

“We strongly encourage sampling, singly or mixed, because when you’re offering the highest quality product around, you want to share that with people and you want people to have fun,” Marty said.

“It’s a very interactive sensory experience in a fun environment.”

The oils come in three intensities: mild, medium and robust, with the latter the most peppery, and people definitely can taste the subtle differences between them according to the Martins. The flavored oils include butter, basil, rosemary, garlic, Milanese gremolata and baklouti chili pepper. The most popular combination is honey ginger white balsamic vinegar mixed with roasted sesame seed oil.

“So many of the oils and vinegars go well together in pairs and we can mix them up to each individual’s palate,” Char said.

True balsamic vinegar, from Italian Trebbiano grapes, is described as thick, sweet and tangy or tart and a little goes a long way. The vinegars include imaginative flavors such as fig, cinnamon-pear, strawberry, peach and vanilla. Some of its uses are to finish soups/sauces, braise dishes, marinate meat, fish and tofu, add pizzazz to roasted vegetables and stir-fries and flavor sodas and cocktails.

“We get customers who are overwhelmed with the selection process so our staff is trained in the subtleties and how to engage customers at whatever level of expertise they’re at,” Marty said.

“The idea was to create a full sensory experience for people: to taste, feel and smell,” Curran said. “I think why people like to shop here is that our products hit the nose, belly and tongue. It’s like tasting a fine wine.”

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