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Two Rivers Olive Oil Company is proud to announce the addition of the second location on Locust Place, Sewickley. For hours and inquiries, please call 412-356-5148. To find out more about Two River’s products and stores, visit tworiversoliveoil.com

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Tucked down a walkway on Third Street in Beaver next to Artsy Doodle (I think this was the old Wedgewood Lanes!?) is a new store the likes of which you probably have never seen. This is actually more than just a store – it is a tasting room for the new Two Rivers Olive Oil Company.

I was so excited when I saw this new slice of culinary tasting heaven on my Facebook feed. I was even more excited when I stopped in… And it was triple the excitement when I started tasting their delicious goods!

When you open the door, you are greeted by several large shelves with fustis (that’s olive oil talk for ‘stainless steel vat’) lining the tops and empty glass bottles stacked underneath. The store has a lot of fustis, all filled with different oils and vinegars. Also in the store are pastas and jars of goodies, like sundried tomatoes and pesto. But the oils and the vinegars – That’s what really shines here.

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Vinegar and Oil Shopping Basics

Let’s pause for a minute and talk about shopping basics. If you are anything like I was, buying oil and vinegar was a simple process. There’s extra virgin or regular for your olive oil choices, and there is balsamic, red wine and apple cider for vinegar. I would buy the bulk sized vat of oil that would last us six months, and use it to cook with. Vinegar was the same – Use it in recipes or drizzled on a salad. As it turns out, I had been missing so much.

When you buy olive oil, it is important to know the answers to a few key questions – When was it made? Where it was made? And who made it?

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Check the Dates!

Here is the thing… much like fruit juice, olive oil can go bad pretty quickly, even in the initial stages of the oil making process. If the olives are harvested and then end up sitting before they are crushed, the flavor, quality, and health benefits will be sacrificed.

As oil ages, the flavor changes. It starts out bitter and pungent and as time goes by, it turns buttery and smooth. The more pungent the taste, the fresher the oil.  To get the freshest oil you can, you should look to buy as close to the processing mill as possible.

Clearly in Beaver County, we are not close to any olive oil production plants. Since this is the case, you want to check your labels. Look for the harvest or crush date, or even the ‘best by’ date. If the harvest / crush date is recent, the oil is fresh. The ‘best by’ date is typically two years from when the oil is made.

Another thing to help with freshness is to purchase smaller quantities in dark colored glass bottles and to store those bottles in a dark, cool spot. Light and heat will deteriorate the oil quickly.

Who Made It? And Where?

Ok, so the dates are important. What else should you look for when you are buying oil? Check the label for where it was made and who made it. Words like ‘Packed in’ or ‘bottled in’ do not mean the oil was actually produced somewhere. Oil manufacturers can stick an Italian flag on the label and say that it was ‘bottled in Italy’, but the oil could have been made anywhere.

Vinegar is not quite as in depth, but there is certainly a difference between a good vinegar and a not so great one! Check your labels – It should have nothing but plant based ingredients. That means, no artificial flavors or colors, no added sugar, and no thickeners. Also, unlike oil, you want the vinegar to be aged. The aging gives it the best flavor.

Back to the tasting room!

Two Rivers currently carries 22 different oils and 23 different balsamic vinegars. Of those, there are five Extra Virgin Olive Oils, four specialty oils, and one 18 year old traditional balsamic.

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The Standard Oils

The plain oils are set back on a wall by themselves and each of the fustis lists out that oils specs – The crush date, flavor profile, country of origin and the chemical breakdown (don’t worry – It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t!).  These oils are considered Ultra Premium Extra Virgin olive oils.

They are the best of the best, so to speak. The oils are fresh. The time between the harvest and the crushing of the oils is only about 4 hours. Each has a different flavor, and each deserves a taste. They are really delicious.

The Flavored Oils

In addition to those plain oils, there are also 15 flavored oils. These all began as Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oils, then were either fused or infused. (I had to ask what the difference was….  Fused is when the oil is actually made with the additional ingredient. Infused is when the extra flavoring is added to the oil after it is made to let it ‘infuse’ it’s flavor. )

Flavors span from Butter, Garlic, or Basil to Baklouti Fused Green Chili, Cilantro & Roasted Onion, or Wild Mushroom & Sage. They also carry 4 specialty oils – White Truffle, Black Truffle, Roasted Sesame, and Roasted Almond. 

The Vinegars

The vinegars are just as impressive. All are 100% natural, certified organic, and non GMO. Simply put – They are just the natural ingredients and time. That’s the way vinegar should be.

This vinegar is different from what you are used to. On my first visit, I was shocked to see people tasting the vinegar from cups! Just straight vinegar! From a cup!!! Doesn’t that sound ridiculous??

It will… until you give them a taste. These aren’t your normal vinegars. They are thick and smooth, and very easy on the palate. So much so that mixing them into sparkling water is actually a fantastic idea!

I picked up two different flavors on my visit – Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic and Cara-Cara Orange & Vanilla White Balsamic. We have used these on salads, in drinks, drizzled on grilled chicken, and muddled into fruit as a delicious French toast topper.

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While all of the oils and vinegars are totally capable of standing alone, the folks at Two Rivers can suggest some fantastic pairing ideas.  For the traditional, you can try the Tuscan Herb Olive Oil and the Traditional Aged Balsamic. To have a fruity flair, try either the Fused Lemon Olive Oil and Aged Strawberry Dark Balsamic, or maybe Persian Lime Olive Oil and Cranberry Pear White Balsamic. For a touch of Greek, how about Garlic Olive Oil and Aged Fig Balsamic?

Paired or alone, on salads or mixed into a cocktail, the products at Two Rivers Olive Oil are too good to pass up. I recommend stopping in to give them all a taste! They are open Monday through Friday, 11 am to 7 pm, and Saturday 10 am to 6 pm.

Anastasia Beaverhausen is a married, stay-at-home mom of three kids. She was born, raised and still lives in downtown Beaver. Her main goals in life are making sure everyone lives through the week, the house doesn’t end up condemned, and teaching two (so far) small people how to “people” properly. In her free time, Ana enjoys running, knitting and gardening, although free time is a pretty tough thing to come by these days. Follow her on twiter @bcBeaverhausen!