Honolulu’s first olive oil boutique

Slick Business: Island Olive Oil Co., Honolulu’s first olive oil boutique

photo: david croxforD

Dana Bergman, owner of Island Olive Oil Co., takes a shot of olive oil daily. For health, he says. I’ve read the latest news on the Mediterranean Diet and how good olive oil is for you, but I still prefer my olive oil with food and my shot glasses filled with whiskey, call me old fashioned.

Still, Island Olive Oil Co., a specialty olive oil shop, is a new-to-Honolulu idea that’s got me hooked. In sampling a new shipment of oils from Greece, Portugal, Sicily, Spain and Tunisia, I taste how lively fresh olive oil can be: grassy and peppery, with a bite that indicates polyphenols, or the antioxidants that make olive oil healthful.

Island Olive Oil Co. offers a variety of olive oils for tasting, all labeled with their country of origin and crush date (the fresher, the better). They’re stored in stainless-steel canisters known as fusti to block out light and preserve freshness, then decanted into bottles when you’re ready to buy. (A 200 ml bottle starts at $12.95.)

“We have the freshest olive oil available in Hawaii,” says Bergman, who was inspired by his travels to open an olive oil boutique. He’s since learned how extensive the olive oil world is and how much it resembles the wine industry: “It’s seasonal, it varies from harvest to harvest, from the Northern Hemisphere to Southern Hempishere, from vintages and varietals,” he says. He encourages tasting at his shop to taste the nuances of pure, fresh extra virgin olive oil. (The olive oil business, it turns out, is a slippery one; many olive oils are blended with inferior oils and oils are often mislabeled as extra virgin. Bergman says all his oils are certified.)

In addition to some of the island’s freshest olive oil, this boutique offers pure balsamic vinegar and some fun infused ones, like a Cara Cara orange vanilla white balsamic vinegar that tastes like an orange creamsicle and a pomegranate aged balsamic.

If you’re looking to instantly glam up your cooking, you’ll probably want to try the black truffle oil ($12.95 for 60 ml). While some truffle oils are flavored with synthetic chemicals, Island Olive Oil Co. offers one that’s actually steeped with truffles. It’s strong, heady stuff—a little goes a long way.

The question I get the most when I tell people about Island Olive Oil Co.: Are there any local olive oils? No. While a few farmers here are experimenting with growing olives and pressing olive oil, there’s nothing yet on a commercial scale.

Island Olive Oil Co. | Ward Centers, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 103, 388-8912, islandoliveoil.com.