Rockford keeps tasting better and better. Find out for yourself at Old World Olive Press, which opened for business Black Friday, November 27 at 65 Bridge Street. The old-world European flair of the store is like stepping into a shop in Italy, and the walls are lined with bottles of olive oil and Balsamic vinegars, but it is the taste of the products mixed together that star in this venture.
Business partners and Rockford residents Shasta Fase and Cory DeLong are great fans of the flavor and health benefits of olive oils and Balsamic vinegars. Their store offers over 30 different olive oils and 15 to 20 different Balsamic vinegars, as well as a variety of rubs and sea salts. By pairing the oils with the vinegars, however, the variety of flavors for salads, marinades, dipping mixes and drizzles are nearly endless. You can even pour a blueberry oil over ice cream for a delicious and unexpected dessert. According to the pair, everyone should have a well-stocked kitchen with oils and vinegar on hand to give a European flavor to everyday meals.
“We love the concept and wanted to bring it to Rockford, “said Fase, whose dream is to go to a cooking school in Italy. Shoppers can tour the world right here through the labels on Old World Olive Press products—Australia, Italy, Chile, Spain and even the United States with oils from California. “We came up with this concept through our travels,” Fase explained. ‘With the new restaurants in Rockford, we feel a store like this is a good fit.”
The two love the town and want to open their business right here where they live.
The Old World part of the name is a homage to the long history of Rockford, founded in the 1800s. The decor is in deference to the origins of the products. The price, $15.95 for a 375 ml bottle of either oil or vinegar, is not just simple, but affordable. The fun is in the multiple uses and tastes that can come from the pairings, which have recommendations on cards throughout the store.
Cantaloupe and watermelon are good with a drizzle of the vanilla bean oil from Modena. White truffle oil is good in pasta or as a finishing oil for steak. The blood orange oil from Tunisia shines with Dark Chocolate Balsamic. Basil oil is simply delicious drizzled over a hot baked potato.
“We learned the combinations by research and travels,” said DeLong. He said a similar store the have frequented in Chicago helped them learn which oils taste fantastic with which vinegars, and what foods are good with each and with their different pairings. A clueless cook can follow suggestions and come up with winning combinations to impress any palate.
DeLong and Fase had been thinking about opening their own store and “pulled the trigger” three months ago when they signed the lease. Intense remodeling readied the shop for the intended pre-holiday opening day. The building is a former garage, built in the 1920s. Once owned by Floyd, it was playfully tagged the FLOYD, for “Floyd Loves Old Yukky Dumps” by friend Pete Kruer. It was more recently occupied by Wise Photography, which vacated the premises for the new location at 1 North Main Street.
While remodeling, DeLong and Fase found evidence of the former use of the building. “The garage door is still up there in the ceiling,” DeLong said. Drop ceiling tiles are hooked to the door, so the two decided not to try to take the door out. “It’s part of the building’s history” both DeLong and Fase said.
DeLong and Fase look forward to doing business in Rockford and plan to work with restaurants in town. “We hope to have tastings in the restaurants using our products, as well as local chefs doing demonstrations in our store,” Fase said.
Old World Olive Press is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. Their website is Oldworldolivepress.com.