This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Karen Rose, owner of City Olive. City Olive is a specialty olive oil and gourmet food boutique where you can enjoy an exquisite selection of the finest estate bottled extra virgin olive oils and locally made artisan products from around the world at 5644 N. Clark.
“Olive oil is the perfect gift, and it does last longer than a bottle of wine.”
Listen to Episode 81 with Karen Rose!
Here are some references from Episode 81 that you may want to check out:
- City Olive has been in Andersonville since 2007, and prior to that, Karen was a registered nurse for many years. She has a passion for healthy food, travel, and cooking and wanted to try something different, combine her passions, and maintain her love of promoting healthy living. While traveling in Spain, she noticed olive oil was everywhere and had significant health benefits, but back in the States she saw that good olive oil was hard to find.
- The deciding factor to open a small business came after lots of research on the health benefits of olive oil, and emailing producers in Europe and California. She came to a point where she knew she had to do something with all the research she had done, and was contacted by a landlord and moved forward with opening her business. Originally City Olive was at 5408 N Clark and is now at 5644 N Clark. The name City Olive comes from Greek mythology.
- Olive oil has been surrounded by some controversy. For example, not all oils marked “extra virgin” are necessarily accurate. Estate bottled olive oil allows Karen to follow the entire production process, from tree to mill, and can be as little as 2-12 hours. It is minimally processed, with no heat or chemical use. Also, the storage and purchase process minimize contamination, which prevents the oil from becoming rancid.
- Karen brought some oil to taste on air, which you’ll just have to experience yourself at her location in person! In terms of selection, Karen works with only the highest reputable importers, and does some importing herself. Some producers have come directly to City Olive, including a Lebanese producer, Oleavanti, who brought their product to present at Andersonville Arts Week. O-Med is also another producer City Olive carries, outside of Granada, Spain. In this episode, Karen brings Tondo from Sicily. Her customers meet the producers, and have even gone so far as to visit the estates!
- The way City Olive does tastings, is first – without bread. Like wine, you want to taste it by itself. A good piece of bread will mask a bad oil. City Olive uses green apple, which has just enough tartness to cleanse the palate. They use little blue glasses, so that the color isn’t a determinate of the quality of the oil (color can be manipulated.)
- Tasting process: Hold it in your hand to warm it slightly. Smell it and take in the aroma. Take it and slurp it into your mouth covering your entire palate. SLURP! If there is a little heat or bite, those are the polyphenols.
- When buying olive oil, look for not only the best by date, but the harvest date. And make sure to use it! Karen shares that in Greece, the average consumption of olive oil is 17-20 litres per person, per year! The average American uses less than 1 litre. And, olive oil isn’t just for cooking, you can bake with it too. Karen makes an olive oil cake that you can find on her website. You can convert butter to olive oil.
- When storing your olive oil, always store in a cold, dark space with the lid on. The enemies of olive oil are heat, sunlight and air. Most keep it by the stove – but don’t! Many bottles come with tamper proof lids. City Olive also carries Gary Jackson handmade containers, great for a beautiful presentation. Otherwise, keep it in the container it came in with a tight seal.
- As a nurse, Karen reminds that olive oil has significant health benefits and has links to articles on the City Olive website from the Harvard Journal of Public Health and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. She also encourages a plant-based diet, and to pay attention to labels (is sugar or salt the first ingredient?)
- Difficulties that the olive oil industry (as well as cheese and wine) face right now are tariffs. (European retaliatory tariffs…which are still undecided. If these tariffs go through, there will be a 100% mark-up on products. You can call your representatives, Congresswoman Shakowsky, Senator Durbin to voice your opinion.) California produces great oils, but only provides 5% of the nation’s consumption.
- If Karen could trade businesses with any other Andersonville business, it would be with Scott Martin because of all the interesting people he must encounter who come in at Simon’s (5210 N Clark) and Svea (5236 N Clark). Scott’s favorite olive oil is Omed and he could definitely sell oil as well!