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Olive Oil, Spices & Wine…Oh My!

Thanks to the fabulous Brooke, I kicked off February (and now the rebirth of this blog!) with an evening of tasting olive oils, balsamic vinegars, spices and wine. I mean, is there a better way to spend an evening? Brooke organized a foodie networking tour in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood that included stops at Old Town Oil, The Spice House and O’Briens. My fellow foodie-tourists included a great mix of dietitians, chefs and people who love good food.

This blog is a place to examine and discuss health, taste, wellness, indulgence, nutrition and all-things-yummy. The tour, Olive Oil, Spices & Wine…Oh My!, was all those things rolled up into one with a shiny bow on top!



The evening started at Old Town Oil where the knowledgable staff gave great tips on how to select oilve oils and pair them with balsamic vinegars to make tasty dressings and marinades.






old town oil




One of my favorite pairings was the Garlic EVOO and OTO Reserve balsamic vinegar. Another really refreshing and tasty combo was the Blood Orange EVOO and Peach white balsamic vinegar.





bulk spices


We moved over to The Spice House where owners Tom and Patty Erd gave a interesting and informative presentation about the history of the spice trade and where various spices come from. Have you had any spices in your drawer or cabinet for more than a year? If so, it is time to toss them out. Whole spices can last for longer than a year, but anything ground won’t be fresh beyond a year. 




me with cinnamon


Here’s me with two different types of cinnamon. Did you know cinnamon is the bark of a tree? The one in my left hand is Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka and it has a strong citrus aroma. The one in my right hand is Saigon cinnamon (I think…too much info to absorb at once!)







my haul



This is my haul from the night. I purchased some items, others were given as part of the tour and I won the bottle of wine for participating in the networking scavenger hunt! From Old Town Oil I have Garlic EVOO, OTO Reserve balsamic, Lemon EVOO and Pomegranate balsamic. From The Spice House I have Florida Seasoned Pepper, California Seasoned Pepper, Little Italy Herbs, Salt Free Cajun, Sunny Spain Seasoning, Bridgeport Seasoning and Ceylon Cinnamon. The door prize wine is Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling. and I also got a bag of Skinny Pop popcorn to try. (I think I’ll be sprinkling some of the Bridgeport seasoning on it!)