Cardenas, located in South Philly (per the sign) on 9th Street better known at the Italian Market, my mom, aunt and I ventured inside this cute little specialty store lined with stainless steel canisters. Each canister had a different flavor (from sweet to savory) printed on the card...
Now mind you I have disliked most condiments for my ENTIRE Existence...ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, vinegar, salad dressings...all of that was for the birds. "Shalon, what do you want on your hot dog?" Just a plain hot dog..."Shalon, you want some potato salad?" *insert disgusted emoji here* HecK No! My mom cleans the house, the floors damn near everything with vinegar and the smell alone nauseates me...
The only reason that story is relevant is to emphasize how amazing these vinegars truly are. My impulse was to find a seat and let my mom and aunt do have their share of vinegar and oil until they were satisfied...but as I watched my aunt pour a sample from the Raspberry vinegar tap, this dark, luxuriously thick syrup emerged from the spout. There were little piece of bread to sample with the vinegar but my aunt dipped her pinky in her poured sample cup, brought it to her lips and squealed with joy at what just hit her taste buds....I was still like no thank you...until I continued to read the delivious flavors posted on the canisters...pomegranate, peach, huckleberry, pecan praline, fig, Bordeaux cherry...what?! These are vinegars?!...then I saw it...my favorite...Blackberry!! I pulled up a cup, poured a sample, dipped my bread and holy blackberries...that can't be vinegar!! From that point it was on...I was trying everything!
The shop was separated by dark balsamic vinegars on the left and white balsamic on the right with olive oils towards the back of the quaint and cozy little store. On the printed cards, you'll find useful information including a description of the vinegar, pairing suggestions for complementary olive oils and/or vinegars...and suggested uses. So I just went combo crazy...mixing Jalapeno Lime Balsamic Vinegar with Garlic Olive Oil imagining that over some chopped avocado or Lemongrass Mint Vinegar and Basil Olive Oil...to marinate some chicken...Peach Vinegar & Habanero Olive Oil....mm Mm MM!!
I don't think we tried every available combo in the store but we definitely had more than half between the three of us, and we would have bought them all except, most flavors only came in 200ml bottles ranging in price from $16.95-19.95. That's a lot of specific strongly flavored vinegar, ultimately we decided to buy a Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar, Lime Olive Oil, Lavender Balsamic Vinegar and Vanilla Bean Olive Oil.
Like I said these shops are popping up all over. My mom and I stumbled upon LowCountry Olive Oil during our visit in Charleston, SC. Same concept with a few different flavors including expresso and chocolate (which I mixed together) and plan to serve over fresh strawberries and one of their 18 year aged balsamic vinegars. What I loved about Low Country is they sold sample bottles, I stocked up and got 6 different flavors, 2 olive oils and 4 vinegars...stay tuned I'll definitely post the pics from when I use these delicious new additions to my pantry!
|Low Country Olive Oil, Charleston, SC|