Food

Gwen Fowler

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Sample tasty olive oil and bring home a Hilton Head souvenir

Posted 8/19/2010 11:44:00 AM

One of the newest shops on Hilton Head Island is the Oilerie, and foodies will love to browse the “olive oil bar” and sample the olive oils, vinegars and more.

Rows of stainless steel tanks are full of extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The store also carries spices and specialty foods such as 21 varieties of stuffed olives.

Owners Tom and Linda Gilson opened their shop in The Village at Wexford about three weeks ago. They first became involved in the company several years ago after they had “semi-retired,” as she puts it, and moved to Door County in northeastern Wisconsin, near Lake Michigan.

She answered an ad in the paper for a store manager, even though she had never worked in retail. She got the job as the manager of the Oilerie at Fish Creek. She and Tom soon decided they wanted to open their own store.
They began searching for the right spot to open a store, and when they visited Hilton Head, it “just really felt right to us.”

All of the oils come from Italy, about an hour south of Rome, Linda said.

One thing I loved about this store is that you can sample any of the oils and vinegars, and they are bottled, from those large tanks, after you buy.

The extra virgin olive oils come in mild, medium or robust, as well as garlic, orange, rosemary, basil, or dill flavoring, and there are many more choices.

A 25-year aged balsamic is sold, as well as balsamic vinegars flavored with pear, raspberry, fig, apple and blackberry.

Other items include walnut oil, hazelnut oil and bread-dipping seasonings and spices.

Soon after the Gilsons opened in Hilton Head, Oilerie stores opened near Portland, Ore., and Milwaukee, Wis. The Gilsons’ store is a neighbor of eat!, the restaurant owned by Food Network Chef Robert Irvine. An olive oil from the Oilerie is being served for dipping at the restaurant, and five of the store’s olives are being used for martinis. Another neighbor, The Jazz Corner, also is serving Oilerie products.

The Gilsons are pleased with business so far. One drawing card for the business is that the attractive bottles have Hilton Head Island on them, so many visitors to the island like them as a souvenir of their trip.

The Oilerie’s products are available online, but to get the oil or vinegar in a bottle that says Hilton Head Island, you will have to order by phone, (843) 681-2722.