Best of Modesto – Sciabica’s olive oil

Sciabica's olive oil

By now you all probably know of my obsession with flavored oils and vinegars. I’m such a sucker for them I swear that as soon as my feet hit the pavement of a fair or farmers market, I can smell the balsamic calling to me. I was telling a local friend about the day I ate an entire 8 oz bottle of dipping blend with a big hunk of bread, and she told me that I should check out Sciabica’s.

I’ve driven past this building a million times and only admired the architecture. It’s straight out of the late 50’s with gorgeous stonework and it just sent my midcentury design alarm pinging (More on that in a future post). But the other day when I found myself stopped at the light on the corner with this building, I decided to go in and poke around.

I didn’t take too many pictures for two reasons. 1) I managed to leave home without a stroller, so I had to carry a squirmy and angry Atticus in my arms the whole time I was there, and 2) the clerk was the most adorable boy who couldn’t have been older than thirteen, and I thought it would be wiser to avoid taking pictures without parental approval.

olive oil tasting
My host gave me an olive oil tasting, and talked me through all the different flavors of each variety, sounding every bit like a practiced sommelier. I got such a kick out of him. Here was this sweet toehead in a black t-shirt with Darth Vader on the front, pointing out the nuttiness of one variety of olive oil, and the earthiness of another.

It really was wonderful stuff, though. Most flavored oils I’ve tried are flavored by immersing ingredients in the oil, and then the oil picks up the flavor. But it’s always subtle, and the major note is still olive oil.

Sciabica’s actually cold presses the other ingredients at the same time as the olives, so you get tons of wonderful basil oil or garlic oil or lemon oil right along side the olive oil. The taste is so exceptional. My young friend was telling me about all kinds of uses for them besides just dunking them in bread as I am wont to do. My favorite was when he mentioned that they’ll brush the griddle with orange olive oil before spreading out waffle batter. Is that a great idea, or what?

Sciabica’s is a family business, as evidenced by my young olive sommelier. He told me stories of running the cash register when he was too short to see over it. A great, local product from a family business in my new hometown. It just warms my heart with the all-American-ness of it all.