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Review of the Olive & Vine Store, Houston Heights

My husband and I are what could be called "foodies." We enjoy sampling and discovering new and different foods from all areas of the world.

Exterior of  Olive & Vine store in the Houston Heights

Exterior of Olive & Vine store in the Houston Heights

Chef Gifts

You need not be an award-winning, five-star chef to desire the wide array of premium extra-virgin olive oils or rich aged balsamic vinegars that are available in this premier boutique shop in the Houston Heights. Whether you think of yourself as a simple home cook or a dedicated foodie, you will find something of interest in this specialty store—especially once you discover that you get to sample each of the shop's fine offerings. Finding the perfect chef gift or gift for those who like to cook will never again be a problem.

My husband and I both like to cook, and my husband excels at doing so. We already had a supply of olive oils as well as balsamic vinegars in our pantry, but we were curious as to what this store had to offer.

A surprise awaited us, and a new journey of discovery as well as a culinary education was launched on the day of our first visit to this store which used to be located in CityCentre. They have recently relocated to the Houston Heights.

Some of the many superior olive oils which can be sampled prior to purchasing.

Some of the many superior olive oils which can be sampled prior to purchasing.

EVOO

Most people now know that the abbreviation of EVOO stands for "extra virgin olive oil. The celebrity chef Rachel Ray has popularized this term using it often on her televised cooking shows.

My husband and I normally keep extra light olive oil and extra virgin olive oil in our home and use it almost exclusively for our cooking needs. We do some sauteing of foods but no deep fat frying which would be a problem in using olive oils because if heated above 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius ) the oil starts to deteriorate in taste and the health benefits are decreased.

From experience, we knew that oils cannot be kept indefinitely as they deteriorate over time and can actually become rancid if left on a shelf too long. This happens for all oils, not just olive oils. Thus freshness of the product makes a big difference.

Interior of  Olive & Vine store

Interior of Olive & Vine store

Extra Virgin Olive Oils

The husband and wife team, Susan and Wayde Burt, who are the owners of Olive & Vine, not only encourage the sampling of all of their products, but are there to explain the different flavor profiles which are also featured on the front of each metal canister containing the oils or vinegars on the opposite side of the room.

With respect to the freshness of the extra virgin olive oils sold in their store, every six months they purchase the just pressed oils from either the northern or southern hemispheres of the world depending upon normal harvest times. They then blend the flavors for consistency (if it is a flavor-infused oil) just like winemakers do with each vintage.

They offer single varietals that range from softer and milder flavors to those with more assertive profiles and are there to explain or give suggestions as to how best to start the sampling of these fine olive oils.

Little plastic disposable cups are furnished along with toothpicks to spear little squares of bread which can be dipped into the oils (and vinegars) if wishing to taste them that way. We have visited the store several times and have yet to taste all of the offerings.

According to Wayde, one couple came in prior to Christmas and proceeded to taste each and every oil and vinegar in the entire store and purchased all of their gifts that year tailoring the different flavors to what they thought their gift recipients would best appreciate.

This took them several hours of time and much evaluation but when they left the store with the beautiful hand-make paper gift bags, their shopping was complete. This made for one-stop shopping for all the gourmets in their circle of family and friends!

Hand-made beautiful paper gift bags at Olive & Vine plus other gift offerings

Hand-made beautiful paper gift bags at Olive & Vine plus other gift offerings

When decisions have been made as to which oils or vinegars one wishes to take home for personal use or to give as gifts, each bottle is filled on the spot, corked and the capsule is shrink-wrapped with the use of heat.

There are two sizes of bottles offered for sale. We have thus far chosen the smaller sized ones that hold 200 milliliters especially in the case of the EVOO choices to assure their peak of flavor as well as health benefits staying at a premium level. This sized bottle also fits on our pantry shelves better.

Health Benefits of EVOO

Most people are aware of the many health benefits of consuming olive oil. It is no wonder that the people who live in Greece as well as Italy and Spain and who regularly consume more of the famed Mediterranean diet which includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts, whole grains, olive oil and smaller amounts of meat and dairy products have less heart disease. They also typically enjoy some daily exercise and have a few glasses of red wine with their family meals.

Those of us living in the United States and even northern Europe consume a small fraction of the olive oil in our daily diets as compared to those living around the Mediterranean part of the world.

French Roasted Walnut Oil Use in This Salad

Mixed baby greens, ground walnuts, goat cheese, pieces crisp/tender asparagus & the French Roasted Walnut Oil along with a splash of white wine vinegar made for this tasty salad combination.

Mixed baby greens, ground walnuts, goat cheese, pieces crisp/tender asparagus & the French Roasted Walnut Oil along with a splash of white wine vinegar made for this tasty salad combination.

Extra virgin olive oils contain even more of the beneficial fatty acids than regular olive oils or most other types of oil, and compared to butter... those of us using the latter should really consider replacing it for most uses with the healthier EVOO.

Knowing that saturated fats are not good for one and that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the best kind, just look at the accompanying comparison chart above to be convinced that incorporating EVOO is the healthier alternative to the use of butter.

Butter vs. EVOO Comparison (EVOO Takes the Win)

. . . and the winner is EVOO on all accounts!

ButterEVOO

(Good for you) Monounsaturated fat: 21 gr

(Good for you) Monounsaturated fat: 73 gr

(Good for you) Polyunsaturated fat: 3 gr

(Good for you) Polyunsaturated fat: 11 gr

(Bad for you) Saturated fat: 81 gr

(Bad for you) Saturated fat: 14 gr

Additional Information About EVOO

There are antioxidants found in olive oil not contained in most other types of oil. The polyphenols in olive oil make the arteries more elastic thus reducing the incidence of heart attacks and strokes. Oleic acid found in olive oil lowers the LDL which is the bad cholesterol and raises the HLD or good kind of cholesterol in our bodies and can have an effect on lowering high blood pressure.

The extra virgin olive oil has the highest ratios of these beneficial effects. Some studies have even shown that the hydroxytyrosol (a main antioxidant found in olives) can even help protect against certain types of cancers.

I am not a doctor, but reading all of this anecdotal evidence, it makes perfect sense to me to start incorporating a tablespoon or two of EVOO into our diets on a daily basis. This is easy to do when consuming it as a salad dressing or using it in other ways of cooking.

Salad Caprese -  Herbes de Provence EVOO drizzled over sliced tomatoes & fresh mozarella cheese.

Salad Caprese - Herbes de Provence EVOO drizzled over sliced tomatoes & fresh mozarella cheese.

Herbes de Provence, Bok Choy, Shrimp and Scallops

In addition to using the Herbes de Provence extra virgin olive oil for salads, I hauled out our gas stovetop grill pan one evening and used it to flavor grilled baby bok choy, shrimp and scallops. It made for a delicious dinner that night for the two of us with a sprinkling of fresh lemon, salt and freshly ground pepper.

Herbes de Provence EVOO used to flavor grilled baby bok choy, shrimp and scallops.

Herbes de Provence EVOO used to flavor grilled baby bok choy, shrimp and scallops.

Porcini Soup

My husband made a delicious chestnut porcini soup for one of our dinner parties and we used the Savory Sage & Mushroom organic extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top to rave reviews from our guests. It added just another layer of sensory delight to an already outstanding soup recipe and, of course, added those health benefits as well as additional flavor.

Savory Sage & Mushroom EVOO used to top off this chestnut porcini soup.

Savory Sage & Mushroom EVOO used to top off this chestnut porcini soup.

Traditional Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Are you aware that most of the balsamic vinegars available in grocery stores and elsewhere are not made using the time-proven traditional methods? Many of them use artificial additives, coloring and even thickeners to try to replicate the taste of the true aged balsamic vinegars which take time to get to that state of perfection much like a fine wine develops with the aging process.

There are only two regions in Italy where standards are kept to exacting measurements by the representing consortium's overseeing the process of handling the grapes from the beginning stages of pressing them to the final product which takes a minimum of 12 years of aging and even up to 25 years or longer.

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

When one gets to sample those made in the traditional manner and compare them to the mass-produced balsamic vinegars, it is easy to determine that rushing the process with shortcuts simply does not produce the silky and complex flavor profiles that can be found in the selections of those found at Olive & Vine.

All of their varieties of balsamic vinegars come from Modena, Italy and in addition to the traditional balsamic they offer a wide selection of infused flavors which include some of our favorites such as Raspberry Fusion and Italian Espresso. Most of their selections are aged an average of 18 years. The best way to determine what one really likes is to taste it.

Come in and sample balsamic vinegar at the Olive & Vine.

Come in and sample balsamic vinegar at the Olive & Vine.

Shelf Life

When purchasing balsamic vinegars, one need not worry about the shelf life as much as when acquiring the more volatile olive oils. Thus it is tempting to build a wide selection of the aromatic and tasty balsamic vinegars for home use. I am sure that we will be building up our inventory over time. There are just so many good ones from which to choose!

An Elegant Dessert Idea

At several of our dinner parties we offered a very simple dessert of some tiny scoops of premium vanilla ice cream topped with fresh sliced strawberries. We actually put the bottle of the espresso balsamic vinegar on the table with the pour spout that we also purchased at Olive & Vine and allowed our guests to pour as much or as little of the balsamic vinegar over the strawberries as they desired.

Every one of our guests were impressed and stated that they would be visiting Olive & Vine to acquire some of these premium oils and vinegars for themselves after tasting them in the different dinner courses.

Serving Espresso balsamic vinegar over ice cream and strawberries.

Serving Espresso balsamic vinegar over ice cream and strawberries.

Endless Possibilities

The raspberry fusion balsamic vinegar is wonderful used in a salad. It is so fragrant and pleasing to the palate that a friend of mine said that she could envision just drinking small amounts of it all by itself. It is amazingly delicious!

Since that time my husband and I have even used some of it over our fruit and yogurt in the mornings and are enjoying it that way. We have yet to use it to marinate meats or use with baked fish but intend to try that sometime soon. The possibilities are endless!

The Health Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar

There are health benefits to consuming balsamic vinegar similar to extra virgin olive oils. In addition to the antioxidants that help the immune system and cardiovascular help, balsamic vinegar can help in weight loss by slowing the process of emptying the stomach thereby making one feel full longer.

It also aids in the regulation of blood sugar helping diabetics to keep their disease under better control. Studies have shown these good results and more.

A Standalone Treat

The sweet flavors in aged balsamic vinegars are enough to encourage people's use of these products even without the enticement of better health. But knowing that one can have it all (sweet flavors and better health). I know that I am going to ramp up my use of these wonderful balsamic vinegars, and I know where I will be headed to purchase more.

Olive & Vine

From 10 AM to 6 PM Monday to Saturday and from 11 AM to 5 PM on Sundays, you can meet Susan and/or Wayde Burt, do some tasting and learn more about these wonderful and aromatic products that this knowledgeable husband and wife team are pleased to show and sell.

We are so happy that we stumbled upon this inviting store in Houston's CityCentre one day. Anyone who likes to cook at home and use premium ingredients that do not cost an arm and a leg and like to sample products before purchasing them should head on over to Olive & Vine.

One thing is certain. We will be returning for not only replacements of what we currently have, but will be trying more of their huge assortment of extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars. Olive & Vine is a unique boutique store and great addition to what Houston has to offer gourmands or wannabe cooks or chefs of any level of expertise. For those of you who do not live in our area, orders can be placed online.

Video Filmed at Their Prior Location in CityCentre

Support Local Businesses

Sadly, after eight years of owning the first dedicated oil and vinegar shop in Houston, the owners have announced the closing of Olive & Vine. Their online store will remain open for a limited time, and any orders over $75 will have free shipping.

It is hard for mom and pop shops to compete with larger businesses. Those of us who became educated about the value of choosing good balsamic vinegar and olive oils will now have to shop elsewhere.

© 2012 Peggy Woods

Comments Are Welcomed!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 28, 2014:

Hi vespawoolf,

With your love of cooking I know that you will fall in love with the different aged balsamic vinegars & flavored olive oils. Hope you get to sample them ahead of time like we get to do prior to purchasing them. We just had some raspberry balsamic vinegar over our Greek yogurt and sliced strawberries this morning to start our day.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 28, 2014:

Hello Suzanne,

They are good. Did they use some of them (balsamic vinegars and olive oils) in that Portland event you mentioned? This was in the spam folder so I just now found it. Sorry for the late response.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on April 26, 2014:

What an interesting store! There's a store that sells balsamic and EVOO in Durango, CO, near my in-laws' home. Now you've convinced me to bring home a bottle or two, even though they have to be well-packed for the trip back to Peru. I didn't realize balsamic vinegar has health benefits such as controlling blood sugar levels. I'm sure it's delicious, too! I'll have to check out your soup recipe soon. Thank you!

Suzanne on August 26, 2013:

Flavored Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oils, I can't get enough of these. The Beer n' Burgers Event in Portland, which as a blast by the way. Our Roller Coaster Vacation, that I took just days berfoe my back surgery.a0 I wanted to get my money's worth out of my back surgery.a0

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2013:

Hi Rebecca,

Great olive oils have so many purposes as per your comment. Thanks for commenting on this hub regarding this unique store in Houston offering premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Also thank you for your votes and the share.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2013:

Hi Au fait,

I have some assorted veggies roasting in the oven right now with some Smoky Chipolte Pepper infused olive oil drizzled over it. Will be good with tonight's dinner served at room temperature or heated just slightly. Glad that you liked this hub about the Olive and Vine store in Houston. They excel in offering an assortment of wonderful olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Appreciate the votes + share.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 19, 2013:

What a lovely Hub about olive oil and the balsamic vinegars. What creative and delicious ways you have presented. I use olive oil frequently, sometimes even as a moisturizer. Voted up, awesome and shared!

C E Clark from North Texas on May 19, 2013:

A very extensive education on olive oil and vinegar! So much good information about these things packed into this hub. Voting it up, AUI, and sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2013:

Hi Rajan,

So glad to know that you enjoyed not only learning about the Olive and Vine store in Houston, but a bit more about the health benefits of consuming extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars. Thanks for your comment and the share.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 09, 2013:

It was a treat reading this very informational hub. Terrific pictures as well. Thanks for sharing this Peggy and sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 22, 2012:

Hello cookingrecipes,

Glad that you liked this. With your name of cookingrecipes, I'll bet that you find good uses for extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegars. Correct? Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 21, 2012:

Hello 4FoodSafety,

By all means check out that oil and vinegar store in your area. It it is half as good as Olive & Vine here in Houston, you will be shopping there often. Thanks for your comment.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Fontana, WI on February 21, 2012:

There is a shop similar in nature in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin which I have never visited before. You have inspired me to step inside. Thank you!

And yes, I enjoy balsamic vinegar - the absolute best!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2012:

Hi Don,

Yes, I am sure that you would have a great time sampling all of the many premium virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars at Olive & Vine if you lived down here. Thanks for your comment and the sharing of this hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2012:

Hi Brett,

I know what you mean. I am sure that word of mouth will keep this Olive & Vine store busy and make it successful long into the future because of people who appreciate fine ingredients for their home cooking or even just the dressing of their salads. Thanks for your comment and the sharing of this information with others.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on February 19, 2012:

Hi Peggy. It looks like an educational place to visit. Because of diabetes I substituted olive oil for other oils long ago but don't know much about the variations. Often on a salad I like an oil and vinegar dressing. Could probably learn a lot at this place. Voted up, beautiful and interesting. Sharing.

Brett C from Asia on February 19, 2012:

Nice review of what looks to be a great store. Having spent a lot of time in Asia, I know how good it can feel to find a quality store that sells the products that you like!

Thanks for SHARING your find.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 14, 2012:

Hi SanneL,

Olive oil is the only kind of oil that we carry in our home and we also use lots of it. Always did use some balsamic vinegar but have been using more than ever after buying some of the premium aged ones sold at Olive & Vine. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Will think of you cooking with your olive oils fresh from the presses in Greece!

SanneL from Sweden on February 14, 2012:

The Olive and Vine store sound and look both beautiful and charming. You are fortunate to have a store like that close by, so you can stack up on the very healthy olive oil. I don't have a fancy store like that close by. However, I'm fortunate and get my olive oil straight from the pressing mills in Greece. And since I use olive oil on everything . . .well, almost everything, I make sure to get a lot of oil.

Peggy - Fantastic and very interesting read! And your pictures are just amazing!

Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2012:

Hi thelyricwriter,

The Olive & Vine store is a sole enterprise (at least as of now) in Houston, Texas. Am sure that people who like to cook would like similar stores in every location. Thanks for your comment and interest.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2012:

Hello loveofnight,

I think that most good cooks like having aged balsamic vinegars and premium extra virgin olive oils in their cupboards or pantry. Will have to see if you have written any cooking hubs! Thanks for your comment.

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on February 11, 2012:

Another great class "A" article Peggy. Your articles are always so informative. I wish we had one of those stores here in WV. I never have heard of them before. An article full of useful information. Great work and thanks:)

loveofnight from Baltimore, Maryland on February 11, 2012:

You have written about two of the things that I love cooking with;and the pictures are great. Thanks for a well written Hub and for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2012:

Hi alocsin,

I am sure that you will enjoy visiting the Olive & Vine shop in person. Thanks for your comment and SHARE.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 11, 2012:

Sounds like a great shop. Putting this on my list for when I visit Houston. Voting this Up and Interesting. Thanks for SHARING.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 07, 2012:

Hello homesteadbound,

Obviously we share similar interests in liking to cook, visiting kitchen supply stores, etc. We have a winner in the Olive & Vine store being not that far away from where we live. Happy to share this information with others! Thanks for your comment.

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on February 07, 2012:

This sounds like a really cool store. I love to cook and I love to eplore kitchen stores. But I have never seen one like this. Maybe next time we get down that way, I might have to check it out! Thanks for SHARING!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 07, 2012:

Hi Eddy,

Nice to know that you appreciated this hub about the Olive & Vine store even though you are on the other side of the Atlantic. Thanks for commenting and voting.

Eiddwen from Wales on February 07, 2012:

A very interesting and well presented hub;thanks for sharing; not one of your hubs lead to disappointments.

Great work and here's that up up and away.

Take care and enjoy your day.

Eddy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 05, 2012:

Hi Cheryl,

The owners of Olive & Vine will be happy to see you and assist you with your tastings and purchases. We will need to go back soon because we are running low on some of our favorites. Thanks for your comment.

Cheryl J. from Houston, TX on February 05, 2012:

I really enjoyed reading your hub on The Premier Shop in City Centre Houston. I had problems with sending my first comment. I will visit this wonderful Oil and Vine store very soon. It is very good to know the owners are very helpful in assisting you with your selections. Lots of beautiful photos and video. Another great hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 05, 2012:

Hi Eddy,

Always nice receiving a comment from you. Glad that you enjoyed reading about the Olive & Vine store in our area. Thanks for your comment.

Eiddwen from Wales on February 05, 2012:

Very interesting and so well presented;as always top class!!!

I have to vote an up up and away here.-lol-

Take care Peggy and have a great day.

Eddy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 03, 2012:

Hello LadyLyell,

Believe me when I say that I KNOW we are lucky to have a store like Olive & Vine in our area. Many of the extra virgin olive oils come from the Mediterranean area depending upon the time of year and freshest harvesting of the olives. Thanks for your interest in this hub and your comment. Appreciate it.

LadyLyell from George, South Africa on February 03, 2012:

You will be the envy of the world having a shop like the Olive and Vine in your home town.

The photos and information are both exceptional and I was glad to be able to learn from it.

Pleased you mentioned the use of olive oil in the Mediteranian countries as I think the food is the best part of this region.

Voted useful!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 03, 2012:

Hi suni51,

Generally I don't write about stores but had to make an exception in this case. They have such friendly and helpful owners and sell such top quality and healthful products limited to just a few premium items...that being the freshest and best EVOO's and absolutely wonderful aged balsamic vinegars. Glad that you liked reading about Olive & Vine. Thanks for your comment.

suni51 on February 03, 2012:

Hi Peggy, this was as grand as they come from you. This stores seems to be a favorite one of yours. great, every thing great here.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 02, 2012:

Hi Cheryl,

Am sure that you would enjoy having some of these premier extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars in your home. Such great flavors for salads, etc! Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 02, 2012:

Hi Prasetio,

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this Olive & Vine shop. Am sure you would enjoy the extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars.

Cheryl J. from Houston, TX on February 02, 2012:

A very interesting hub. I

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on February 02, 2012:

This was great information, Peggy. Nice report from you and I really enjoy all pictures and the video as well. I wish I could visit Olive & Vine store one day. Thank you very much for writing and share with us. Rated up!

Prasetio

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 01, 2012:

Hi Susan,

Glad that you like this hub! I used more of your EVOO today in two different preparations. One was just some oven roasted veggies (yummy!)and the other was an Oriental inspired meal with buckwheat noodles, asparagus, oranges, baby bok choy, hen of the woods mushrooms, table onions, red and orange peppers, some cooked white meat turkey, cilantro and seasonings including Chinese 5 spices, etc. It is great warm and should also be good cold. Used your sage and mushroom EVOO in that as well as other liquids.

Undoubtedly we will be seeing you again soon since some of our bottles are getting low.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 01, 2012:

Hi Gene,

This is a special kind of shopping when it is related to great products one wishes to have in one's kitchen for some spectacular tasting meals. If you ever come this way again...we will treat you to some meals at our home using some of these aged balsamic vinegars or EVOO. They are great!

Susan Burt on February 01, 2012:

Thanks for this great article Peggy! We are so glad you are enjoying these products and we appreciate your support. Look forward to seeing you again soon.

Gene Jasper on February 01, 2012:

Argh! Shopping!

Gene

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 01, 2012:

Hi Leah,

I agree with you. Finding the Olive & Vine store in our locale was a real treat and will be a continuing treat for years to come. Thanks for the first comment.

Leah Lefler from Western New York on February 01, 2012:

Oh, I wish we had a store like Olive and Vine. I would be in heaven! There is nothing better than high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar - I absolutely love it!