I am a food retailer here in the New York area. We are Fairway Market, nine big stores with more being built as I write. Our most recent stores are in Stamford, Connecticut, the Upper Eastside of Manhattan and Douglaston Queens. We offer everything a leading food market should offer, and we do it very well. I have been employed by Fairway since the early 1980s.
Fairway is known for its fruits and vegetables, massive cheese departments, olives, olive oil and vinegar, premises-smoked salmon, premises-roasted coffee beans, full-service seafood and butcher counters, and an enormous selection of certified organic foodstuffs.
I created for my stores 14 regionally disparate, un-filtered Fairway-labeled olive oils from groves and millers with which I am intimate. I import these oils in 200-kilo barrels, and we pump each barrel’s contents into our own bottles upon which we apply our own oil-proof labels. Each of these barrel oils is named for its specific region and olive variety. This is in addition to our own Italy-bottled and ‑labeled ‘house’ olive oil (choose from filtered, un-filtered and certified organic).
Our ‘house’ oil is a gentle, yet full-flavored blend of olive oils sourced from Italy, Spain and Greece. And then I import exclusively over 40 other olive oils from old, venerable, small-production, family-owned mills whose groves are timeless and whose bottles and labels are as artful and attractive as can be.
Point (attempted) being we sell a lot of olive oil here at our wonderful Fairway Markets.
But it’s not the mind-numbing scope and variety that sells these olive oils. Nor is it the nearly overwhelming barrage of informational signage and colorful posters that accompany this remarkable array assembled within the dedicated space given to oils and vinegars. Both of these undeniably positive elements contribute to our success. But neither is as important as the manner in which we merchandise this important category.
At each of our stores we have a custom-designed, built and installed four-sided hutch — offering many feet of shelving above and below — separated by a one-foot wide horizontal space 30 inches from the floor for tasting. At intervals all the way around, from as many as 36, to as few as a dozen, we have hollowed out depressions designed to hold a container in which we pour olive oil.
Each sample container has its bottle standing behind it so that the customer can see which oil they are tasting, as well as take the opportunity to read the information- filled label. I wrote every one of these prolix labels, in my quixotic quest to provide all the useful information there is to glean from every single one of these extraordinary olive oils.
Lucite cubes at each end of these tasting tables are constantly being refilled with cut medallions of our ‘house’ baguette that is baked and turned out hot from the oven all day, every day. Our customers know to use these baguette slices to dip into and taste as many olive oils as they desire.
Care to see the olive oils we’re selling now?
NON-BARREL OLIVE OILS IMPORTED DIRECT 2011/2012
Bottled and labeled at the source (2011 harvest)
La Fare Les Oliviers AOC Haute-Provence
Moulin Des Penitents AOC Haute-Provence
Moulin Margier Domaine de la Michelle AOC Aix-en-Provence
Moulin St.-Michel AOC Baux-de-Provence
Domaine De Bournissac Bouches-du-Rhone
Moulin De L’Olivette AOC Haute-Provence
Dozol-Autrand AOC Nyons
Mas De Flechon AOC Baux-de-Provence
Mas De La Dame AOC Baux-de-Provence
Moulin De La Brague Pays Nicois
Olivie ‘Violette’ Roussillon
Olivie ‘Grand Cru Oliviere’ Roussillon
Olivie ‘Farigoule’ Roussillon
Mas Des Barres AOC Aix-en-Provence
Moulin De La Chartreuse Vaucluse
Domaine Les Bastidettes ‘Jas De Camargue’ Bouches-du-Rhone
Chateau D’Estoublon AOC Baux-de-Provence
Pago Baldios San Carlos Extremadura
Oli Cocons Catalonia
Luque Organic Andalucia
Luque Organic ‘stone-ground and pressed’ Andalucia
Luque Organic ‘Limited Edition’ Andalucia
Luque Organic ‘flor de aceite’ (pre-extra-virgin)
Torrevella Sotaroni Alcoy-Valencia
Falconero DOP Mazara Western Sicily
Ranise DOP Riviere Ligure Liguria
Sommariva DOP Riviere Ligure Liguria
La Macchia Tuscany
Madonna Del Chianti DOP Chianti Tuscany
Podere Forte DOP Terre Di Siena Tuscany
Battaglini DOP Sabina Lazio
Corte Olias Sardinia
Barbera Novello Western Sicily
Barbera Piccantolio Western Sicily
Barbera ‘Edizione Speciale’ Western Sicily
Barbera ‘Frantoia’ Western Sicily
Oro Fino Taggiasca Liguria
Terre Rosse Hispellum DOP Umbria
Osco DOP Sabina Lazio
THE BARREL OILS IN BRIEF 2011-harvest:
All of our barrel oils are un-filtered at our direction; cloudiness is desired for extra flavor and fragrance. Filtering is merely a cosmetic convention to make the oil clear. We know filtering takes away some of what makes olive oil so wonderful.
BARBERA WESTERN SICILIAN biancolilla olive; fragrances include hazelnut and dried fruit; flavors include vegetal (meaning cooked and raw vegetables), green tomato, green banana, raw artichoke, spices; peppery finish
TREVI UMBRIAN (Italy) frantoio, leccino, maraiolo olives; fragrances include underripe fruit, hay and straw; flavors include almond and cocoa; slight bitterness, peppery finish
CALIFORNIA MISSION mission and manzanilla olives; fragrance of mown grass and apples; flavors include melted butter and green apples; smooth finish without pepper
GATA-HURDES EXTREMADURA (Spain) manzanilla cacerena olive; fragrances include citrus (preserved lemon), vegetal; flavors include green tomato and almond; peppery finish
PUGLIESE ORGANIC (Italy) mariatica, leccino, coratina olives; fragrances slightly floral with ripe fruit; flavors include green tomato, slight bitter almond, ripe olive; smooth with just a bit of pepper
CATALAN ARBEQUINA (Catalonia-Spain) arbequina olive; fragrances include ripe fruit and banana skin; flavors include dried fruit, herbs and citrus; light, sweet and almondy
BAENA (from near Cordoba in Andalucia-Spain) arbequina, hojiblanca, picuda olives; fragrances include a huge nose of blackcurrant (cassis), floral; flavors include a touch of bitter citrus fruits; this is a strong oil with a peppery finish
AUSTRALIAN PICUAL picual olives; fragrances are almond extract, herbs; flavors are herbs and citrus with a bit of pepper
GREEK KALAMATA PELOPONNESUS koroneiki olives; fragrances include melted butter, ripe stone fruit and black pepper; flavors include apples and citrus; smooth finish
LUQUE ORGANIC (from near Cordoba in Andalucia-Spain) fragrances include vegetal, fresh herbs, cut wood, tree bark, dried leaves; flavors include artichoke, dried fruit, butter; slightly piquant
BAJA MEXICAN manzanilla and mission olives; intensely olive‑y fragrance, ripe fruit; flavors include artichoke, string beans, olives; peppery finish
OLIVIE PICHOLINE LANGUEDOC (Roussillon-France) picholine olives; fragrances of freshly chopped Provence herbs, spices; flavor is buttery with intense olive-ness; smooth finish, creamy texture
ORO SAN CARLOS EXTREMADURA (Spain) arbequina olive; fragrances of buttered toast, crushed walnut; no bitterness, creamy texture
ITALIAN RIVIERA TAGGIASCA (from the Rosmarino Farm near Portofino in Liguria-Italy) taggiasca olive; fragrances and flavors include black truffle, hazelnut, almond, green tomato, dried fruit; sweet, yet slightly piquant
And coming with the new 2011 harvest:
NATURVIE EXTREMADURA ARBEQUINA (Spain)
CABECA DAS NOGUEIRAS (Portugal)