` Grand Central's Mediterranean Market - Olive Oil Times

Grand Central's Mediterranean Market

May. 10, 2010
Cristabelle Tumola

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Even com­muters who pass through Grand Central every week­day may not notice the culi­nary trea­sures that are scat­tered through­out the his­toric train sta­tion. If you hap­pen to enter the sta­tion from one of its Lexington Avenue entrances, you pass through a long, nar­row cor­ri­dor of food mer­chants, placed one after another in an open mar­ket­place. As the sights and smells of the food prod­ucts dis­tract you, you for­get the main pur­pose of the build­ing.

Leaving the mar­ket, you are reminded that you are in Grand Central Terminal, the busiest rail sta­tion in the United States, but before you fully emerge into the bus­tle of the sta­tion, you are given another chance to escape into a world of food. To be exact, a world of olive oil in the store Oliviers & Co. (O&CO.), a self-described Mediterranean Food Merchant” that sells fine olive oils, vine­gars and more prod­ucts from the olive tree-dot­ted lands of the Mediterranean.

The company’s ori­gins date back ten years far away from the atmos­phere and loca­tion of Grand Central in the vil­lage of Mane in south­ern France where the con­cept was pio­neered by Albert Baussan and Éric Verdier. Today Baussan owns the com­pany in Mane and is also an olive oil pro­ducer. Verdier’s role is to ensure the high qual­ity of the prod­ucts and heads O&CO.’s tast­ing com­mit­tee, which makes the final deci­sion on which items the com­pany will carry.

Before the oils can even be tasted, the olive oil pro­duc­ers, which come mostly from Italy, France and Spain as well as other coun­tries such as Portugal, Turkey and Greece, must adhere to O&CO.’s strict guide­lines, which main­tain over­all qual­ity con­trol of the entire process from the har­vest to the bot­tling. This excel­lence is extended to the company’s 75 retail bou­tiques through­out the world, includ­ing ten in the U.S.

The store’s Grand Central loca­tion is the only one in the city and also effec­tively cap­tures O&CO.’s phi­los­o­phy. From the num­ber of prod­ucts that are avail­able on the company’s web­site, the store’s small size is at first a sur­prise, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks prod­uct offer­ings. The size actu­ally gives the store its bou­tique feel. The dark wood shelves, bas­kets and table­tops used to dis­play the prod­ucts add to this feel­ing and pro­vide a pleas­ant dis­trac­tion from the chaos of the sta­tion. There’s even a sign on dis­play that politely asks cus­tomers not to talk on their cell phones in the store.

There is a sec­tion in the store ded­i­cated to beauty prod­ucts — organic hand, face and body items made from olive oil and olive leaf extract. But the main star of the store is the olive oil. While one might expect the oils to be housed in glass bot­tles, much of the olive oil is in cans. Although some once con­sid­ered this pack­ag­ing as a sign of a lower-end olive oil, the attrac­tive design of the cans and the qual­ity of the oil is give the oppo­site impres­sion. Further ensur­ing cus­tomers of each olive oil’s high qual­ity, the prod­uct labels state the exact ori­gin, pro­ducer, olive vari­eties used and har­vest date.

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The busy shop offers vine­gars, spreads, tape­nades, olives, sauces, pas­tas, crack­ers, truf­fle prod­ucts, sea­son­ings and sweets. The spreads and sauces are spe­cially cre­ated by world-renowned chefs, and other prod­ucts are all made with, or imported from, one of the olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries. Flavored olive oil, vine­gar and truf­fle oil top the list of its best- sell­ing prod­ucts, includ­ing pre­mium bal­samic vine­gars of Modena, basil olive oil, white truf­fle oil made from Ligurian extra vir­gin olive oil and white Alba truf­fles, and lemon spe­cialty olive oil.

Unlike some other gourmet stores, O&CO.’s prod­uct selec­tion is in lim­ited quan­ti­ties and can change from sea­son to sea­son. Although this can be frus­trat­ing to a cus­tomer who has become attached to a prod­uct, this is again a sign of the company’s high stan­dards. But with the store’s daily tast­ings and the oppor­tu­nity to sam­ple any­time, it’s hard not to find a new prod­uct to love.

O&CO. doesn’t just offer a chance to taste and exam­ine an amaz­ing selec­tion of olive oils and other Mediterranean food prod­ucts, but it’s Grand Central loca­tion also offers an oppor­tu­nity to escape from the hec­tic New York City com­mute, even when sev­eral train track entrances are right across from the store.

O&Co.
Graybar Passage
412 Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY, 10017
212/973‑1472

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