A very nice young guy came into the store last week and was perusing our selection of olive oils. He told me his own family had some olive groves in Greece and he'd been bringing some bottles of oil in for friends and was thinking about maybe turning it into a business. It's a story not dissimilar to that of Johnathon Zikos of Fresco Specialty Foods, purveyors of our current favourite line up of olive oils and balsamics. But here's the thing: even if our new friend has an equally good product with an equally pretty label and an equally good story behind it all, he's going to have to exceed the passion and energy of Zikos – and that's going to be tough to do. In fact, you may have met Johnathon (yes, the spelling is correct) set up outside the Mercantile on a sunny summer day or during the Polish Festival offering samples of his excellent products; or you may have caught a glimpse of him dashing into the shop out of the blue to check stock levels and make sure the bottles are neatly aligned and dust-free.
If you've read Tom Mueller's excellent book, Extra Virginity, you'll know that there are a lot of industrial producers out there filling the shelves with something they call "Extra Virgin Olive Oil" that is quite certainly something else. The cost simply of producing a litre of the real thing is more than what some of those companies are charging for a bottle. And for the taste, health and other benefits of the real thing, it is definitely worth it to pay more. And in the case of Fresco's line, it's good to know that the dedication to producing the very best in the field is matched by the dedication to bringing it to you here at home.
The reason for writing this post today is that Fresco has added a couple of product lines to their offering and we're pleased to make room on our shelves for some top quality green and kalamata olives and tapenades that reflect the same passion and excellence as their liquid shelf mates.