It seems that Culpeper was not big enough to contain the success of two Amissville entrepreneurs who opened a unique gourmet shop in the town’s thriving Davis Street corridor less than a year ago.
Jan Davis and George Farrar took a leap of faith last October when they opened Taste Oil Vinegar Spice, but their optimism seems justified now that they have opened a second shop, this time in Old Town Fredericksburg.
“We hadn’t planned on expanding so quickly,” mused Jan. “But we had a lot of customers from Fredericksburg, and we wanted to make it convenient for them.” When 815 Caroline St. became available, they found the floor plan “perfect” and leased it almost on the spot. The new location opened just two months ago.
If you have not been to either Taste location yet, you are missing an unforgettable experience. Upon entering the shop, you will find two lines of back-to-back stainless steel vessels, called fusti. The balsamic vinegars are on the left and the olive oils are on the right. Each fusti has a tap at the bottom, and all you have to do is to take a tiny tasting cup, hold it to the tap and pour out the vinegar or oil that you wish to try. Just like at a wine tasting, you cleanse your palate from time to time with a tiny cracker.
Their inventory is constantly expanding with new temptations – dark chocolate balsamic (heavenly) and porcini-infused olive oil with a real buttery, mushroom flavor. In the spice department, which is only at the Culpeper location, they have new offerings in gourmet salt, including Hawaiian black salt and smoky citrus salt. Another popular item is curried coconut cashews, prepared by a woman in Warrenton.
If all the choices seem to be overwhelming, Jan has prepared a “cheat sheet” of wonderful oil and vinegar pairings. Consider Blenheim apricot balsamic teaming up with toasted almond oil, or a pomegranate balsamic and Persian lime olive oil duet. Have you ever had brownies made with blood orange olive oil? They are astonishingly good and offer a more healthy omega profile over corn oil or butter.
The prices are reasonable, as you have a choice of bottles in several sizes to transport your special purchase. Because the pair has thought of everything in terms of presentation and packaging, the bottles make the perfect holiday, special event or hostess gifts. That is, if you can bear to part with them. By the way, the washed bottles can be returned to the store to be refilled, and you will receive a $1 discount on the purchase for your efforts.
The Culpeper store is located at 202 E. Davis St., and the Fredericksburg store is located at 815 Caroline St. Both stores are open 11 to 6 Monday through Friday, 8 to 6 Saturday and noon to 5 Sunday. They are closed on Tuesday.