So, generally I use olive oil with balsamic vinegar, for salad, pasta, or panzanella (bread salad) – always with tomatoes and generally with basil. Usually I saute things in cooking spray, so not so much on the olive oil there. But last night, I had a sweet opportunity to hang out with some fellow Omaha bloggers and the geniuses at Chef2 at Midtown Crossing here in Omaha. Let’s just saying I was not giving olive oil its fair due. (P.S. for my non-Omaha readers, Midtown Crossing is a shopping, dining, and entertainment area that is pretty sweet in my eyes, because the shops are unique and almost all locally owned.)

IMG_2323[1]

IMG_2325[1]Let’s start with the options. Chef 2 offers every olive oil and vinegar you could think of . . . garlic, chipotle, lime, chocolate, prosecco (Italian sparkling wine I happen to love), cranberry, the list goes on and on.

olive oils and vinegars lpobeauty.com

And what’s really beautiful about it? See those little plastic cups next to each silver dispenser . . . they ENCOURAGE try and buy. And trust me, everything sells itself – the products were delicious!

So our demonstration was conducted by Jim Trebbien, dean of the culinary school at Metro Community College, and if you are from Omaha, you know they are THE boss at local culinary education. His wife, Patty, is a dietitian, and their son manages the store.

As Jim explained, you get what you pay for, so when you have insanely amazing ingredients super simple to make a quick, amazing meal. Here are the four ideas that impressed us all:

Drizzled Bread

IMG_2330[1]Olive oil and salt on bread. Big woop, right? No, not when you’ve got amazing fresh bread from Nebraska bakery Le Quartier, Italian herb olive oil, and lemon infused salt. It’s the details that make the difference.

SaladIMG_2331[1]This salad was so simple but it really got my wheels turning. It was dressed with just oil, vinegar and salt BUT when you take a blueberry balsamic vinegar, a blood orange olive oil and high quality sea salt, it takes it to a whole new level.

Pasta

IMG_2332[1]The store was filled with amazing pestos and pasta options. We got to try a garlic pasta with sundried tomato pesto. I had no idea the pasta was gluten free until I looked at the package later.

Dessert

chocolate balsamic reduction lpobeauty.comAnd finally, Jim taught us how to reduce chocolate balsamic vinegar into an amazing dessert topping (just a few minutes on the stove).

I am grateful for all I learned in just a quick 30-minute demonstration. They also offer some cool classes – check them out here.

I sometimes get intimidated in stores that are considered gourment or high end, but this family atmosphere will make feel right at home! Also, check out the salts like serrano, or the sugars (strawberry to rim your cocktails, anyone?)

 

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