Fans of Food Network personality Rachael Ray would instantly recognize the story behind EVOO & Vin, a new gourmet food shop in Addison that sells artisanal olive oils and vinegars.
"EVOO" is Ray's slangy abbreviation for "extra virgin olive oil." Owners Nicole Gilbert and Heather Rhea combined it with "Vin," for vinegar. "We thought it was catchy, so we went with it," Gilbert says.
Gilbert and Rhea, who've been friends and co-workers at Bank of Texas for years, always shared an interest in cooking and entertaining. But Gilbert became hooked on the idea of opening a store after receiving a bottle of black cherry balsamic vinegar from her mother.
Olive oils come infused with fruits, herbs, garlic and chiles; vinegars range in flavors from honey to pear to chocolate.
"I called Heather immediately and asked her if she wanted to open a business with me," Gilbert says. "Without hesitation, she agreed."
EVOO & Vin, which opened earlier this summer, carries products from Veronica Foods, a supplier based in Oakland, California, that imports fine conventionally grown and organic olive oils from all over the world in addition to producing its own in a mill in Tunisia. Olives are picked while they are green and fresh, which results in a product with superior health benefits, Gilbert says.
She and Rhea also want to differentiate their products from grocery store brands. EVOO & Vin's olive oils are categorized by Veronica Foods as "ultra premium," which means the oils have undergone strict testing to ensure they meet quality standards. Olive oils come infused with fruits, herbs, garlic and chiles; vinegars range in flavors from honey to pear to chocolate.
Among their favorites are the black cherry balsamic vinegar, of course, and the cayenne extra virgin olive oil. Gilbert likes the balsamic in a salad or meat marinade; she uses the cayenne oil on popcorn. For a quick and easy dressing, she combines any olive oil and vinegar with a tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon each of Dijon and garlic.
In addition to oils, vinegars, gourmet foods such as pastas and gift baskets, EVOO & Vin offer samples and recipes so customers can feel confident using the products in their own kitchens. There is also a private room for eight to 10 people, and the main space can fit up to 25, so the duo plans to host events such as cooking demonstrations and wine tastings.
"Coming form the corporate world, we do a lot of client entertaining, and we think this venue is perfect for a unique and fun client event experience," Gilbert says.
Although you can also purchase EVOO & Vin foodstuff online, Gilbert says that an in-store encounter is the way to go. "This is truly an experience; you have to taste it to believe how good it is."