There’s a new shop coming to Brightleaf Square this summer: Bull City Olive Oil, which will carry high quality olive oil, along with lots of other speciality goods you’re going to love.
Owner Julie Steinhauer has lived in North Carolina most of her life. Her family has always been food lovers and great home cooks and her best memories are food-related, whether that’s in the comfort of a family member’s kitchen or trying a new restaurant while traveling. Many of those memories took place right here in Durham with its world-class “foodie” scene.
The specific inspiration for opening an olive oil shop came after Julie’s parents retired from Chapel Hill and moved to the coast a few years ago. When Julie and her husband first visited, her mother insisted on taking her to an adorable specialty grocery store on the waterfront, and the moment Julie walked inside, she was hooked! They spent hours tasting and sampling and Julie got the undeniable feeling this was her calling – she was inspired to replicate that concept right here in the Bull City!
BBC: What’s the difference between the olive oil you will carry and the olive oil one gets from a “regular” grocery store?
Julie: The oils one usually buys in a grocery store setting are generally a mix of cultivars (a variety of olive oils), not freshly harvested or crushed and blended with other oils such as vegetable, sunflower or canola. They have an aftertaste and sticky “mouth-feel,” lacking in flavor and also do not provide those essential health benefits you often hear are associated with olive oil.
By contrast, Bull City Olive Oil’s Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oils (UP EVOO) are single-cultivar, freshly-harvested and crushed within 3-4 hours of picking (picked at the peak of freshness). This not only adds to the nutritional value, but also taste! Our olive oils will be sourced seasonally by hemisphere, so as to provide customers with that “fresh-pressed” taste versus something that’s been in transit or sitting on a shelf for a long time. In fact, in order to carry the UP EVOO you have to go through a vetting process with the distributor.
BBC: What kinds of olive oil will you carry and how do you decide what to stock?
Julie: Along with the UP EVOO, we’ll carry fused (or “agrumato”) oils crushed with fresh fruit, herbs, or vegetables, such as rosemary and blood orange! We’ll have infused olive oils (including garlic, persian lime, etc.), dark and white balsamic vinegars (including fig, blueberry, real Vermont maple, and peach), salami from Seattle, dry pastas from Italy (including gluten-free), local sweets, jams, cheeses, olives (of course) from Spain, sea salts from Wrightsville Beach, kitchen items and other goodies yet to be determined.
The decision about what to carry is based on what items I feel like best compliment the oils and vinegars. Simple, yet refined items that are not readily available at other similar retail outlets.
BBC: Will you hold tastings or have products to sample in the store?
Julie: Everything in the store will be available for tasting on a daily basis. We know it’s very helpful for our customers to be able to taste before buying so they are able to really get a sense of what they like. I get a kick out of seeing people taste something different for the first time and watching the light bulb go off as they think “Oh, this would taste great on this or that…” It’s the same reaction if you’re 5 or 75 and it’s so much fun to see.
The shop will also be available to hold private tastings or parties for corporate events, girls night out, birthday parties, etc. We’ll help with hostess gifts, wedding favors, or other special occasions.
At Bull City Olive Oil, a customer can come in, grab a baguette, cheese, jam, salami and oil or vinegar and have everything they need for a delicious lunch or quick dinner, snacks for a cocktail party, items for a gift basket, or something to impress a date.