Where your olive oil comes from doesn’t matter as much as when it was picked (green off the tree) and how it was processed (two to four hours after harvest).
“There’s also a shelf life, 12 to 14 months,” said Mercedes Burkavage, who was in town to open Big Horn Olive Oil Company, a retail olive oil and balsamic tasting room. She owns the business with her husband, John.
Big Horn recently opened at 2110 N. Rampart Blvd. Burkavage said the new store comes with a learning curve as Las Vegans rethink olive oil.
“As Americans, we’re so used to consuming … olive oil that’s rancid,” she said. “Most Americans don’t know what really good olive oil tastes like.”
She opened two Big Horn stores in Reno and decided Southern Nevada was her next adventure. The 1,200-square-foot space features colored concrete floors and brightly painted walls in, appropriately, a shade called Olive Tree Green. Lining the walls are fustis with dozens of olive oil flavors — cilantro onion, tarragon and extra-virgin — as well as oils in mild, medium and robust intensities. A variety of citrus flavors includes blood orange and bergamot.
Olive oils and balsamic vinegar can be paired, and cheat sheets advise patrons on what goes with what. Decide which one you want, and the spout is engaged and a bottle filled for your needs.
The stainless steel fustis ensure that polyphenols, antioxidants found in olive oil, are kept out of sunlight and oxygen to maintain freshness. The center islands hold the balsamic vinegar flavors, displayed alphabetically — cranberry pear, coconut, pineapple, pinot noir vinegar, lavender, vanilla and Serrano honey. The butter flavor is the only product whose ingredients are not true to its name.
“It’s plant matter that tastes and smells like butter,” Burkavage said. “It makes really good popcorn.”
Light balsamics are aged up to 12 years. Dark balsamics, cooked longer in a copper kettle for caramelization, are aged up to 18 years.
Frank Korshoff Jr., Burkavage’s grandson, helped unpack boxes and get the store ready to open. Being in the family meant the 15-year-old got an education in everything olive oil.
“When I first started, I never thought I’d be tasting olive oils,” he said. “I just thought it was a weird thing to do. Like, ‘Ooh, that’s gross.’ But now, I’m used to the taste, and it’s helped me feel healthier, and it’s really good for your skin. As a teenager, that’s important.”
Danielle Peterson of Reno has been a devoted patron since Big Horn opened in her area and she stopped in to see what it was all about. She’d heard of wine sampling but not oils.
“At first I was kind of wary of it,” she said of sampling the products. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m drinking oil.’ … But it’s just a little splash in a cup, and when she (Burkavage) pairs it with a balsamic, it balances it out. So it goes down really easy.”
She said her favorite so far is the red apple balsamic paired with lime olive oil and that the Reno sales staff is always available to make suggestions for something new.
Burkavage became a connoisseur of olive oil when her daughter Audrey Korshoff began making olive oil soap to sell online. Burkavage helped with the business, which led to her becoming acquainted with the main ingredient. Big Horn plans to carry the soap soon. Her daughter Monica Vanderheiden will be running the new store.
“In my realm, my life, this is like hitting the jackpot,” Burkavage said of opening the Las Vegas store. “… In Reno, we have the market covered. Here, we’re introducing a product that’s so good for you, in a market of so many people, so this is a great opportunity.”
In Reno, Big Horn has occasional events such as Tapas Tuesdays. Plans are to host similar events here.
Hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m daily, with extended hours planned for the holidays. For more information, call 702-778-2500 or visit bighornoliveoil.com.
Contact Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.