You might think something as simple as olive oil and vinegar can’t easily be improved upon — but you’d be wrong.
Step into Fiore Artisan Olive Oil & Vinegar, in either its Rockland or Bar Harbor locations, and you’ll see there’s a wide array of flavors, textures and pairings available.
Pat and Nancy O’Brien opened the Bar Harbor shop in 2009 and the Rockland store in 2010, allowing the customer to taste test their products before buying.
The big difference between the oils and balsamic vinegars Fiore imports from countries all over the world and the products you buy in the grocery store is in the process.
Where mass-produced oils are usually a blend of several varieties from several countries, all the oils at Fiore are sourced from single areas, and single olive varieties. The difference between a Spanish Hojiblanca olive oil (robust and slightly bitter) and a French Picholine olive oil (bright and with a grassy, tomato-like flavor) is extremely noticeable once you taste them — and in turn, can give unique panache to a salad or a cheese plate.
The difference may be even larger with the balsamic vinegars, which are made exclusively from Trebbiano grape juice — unlike the mass-produced balsamic vinegar, which is made with wine vinegar, caramel coloring and oftentimes sweeteners.
Fiore’s vinegars — aged 12 or 18 years, and even 35 years for some varieties — are more boldly flavored, and come exclusively from Italy. They also offer a number of flavored vinegars, such as strawberry, fig, blackberry ginger and red apple. They’re good on everything from fish or pork to vanilla gelato or fruit salad.
Fiore is located at 8 Rodick Place in Bar Harbor and at 503 Main St. in Rockland. Oils and vinegars range in price from $10-$30; gift packs are available. The store is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sundays. Products also can be ordered online at fioreoliveoils.com.