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How Fairway Market Sells So Much Olive Oil

Nov. 28, 2011
Steven Jenkins

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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.

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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)

FRANCE
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

SPAIN
Aniguala Aragon
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)
Naturvie Extremadura
Torrevella Sotaroni Alcoy-Valencia

ITALY
Falconero DOP Mazara Western Sicily
Ranise DOP Riviere Ligure Liguria
Sommariva DOP Riviere Ligure Liguria
La Macchia Tuscany
EsteOlive 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)

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