If you ever find yourself substituting olive oil for butter, or consider balsamic vinegar a kitchen staple, you’ll be thrilled to hear that Olive That and More! is opening tomorrow in Upper Montclair.
Owners Steve Lehrhoff and Jennifer O’Sullivan of Verona had been thinking of starting a business for years. Lehrhoff, who was often busy touring the world as Sir Elton John’s band manager, wanted to spend more time with Jennifer and their young son, Graham. When a tree fell on their home during last October’s devastating snowstorm–just as Steve was heading to Latvia for a month—they knew it was time to make a plan. That’s when “the karma train” as Steve calls it, got rolling. They were friends with the owners of the Filling Station in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, and thought the same business concept–selling high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars in a comfortable “try before you buy” setting–could work in Montclair. “There’s such a foodie vibe here,” says Jennifer. “It seemed right.”
So when The Garden Shop, located on Bellevue Ave. in the heart of the Upper Montclair business district, went on the market–the couple saw it a good omen. The store’s terracotta walls, decorative green trellises and harlequin–patterned wooden floors perfectly created the old world, stylishly homey atmosphere they desired.
Jennifer, who says olive oil is “almost like the new wine,” is brimming with ideas for various “pairings” of olive oil with foods, and eager to share her expertise with the shop’s customers. For instance, she recommends cooking shrimp scampi with garlic olive oil, and scrambled eggs with black truffle olive oil. Her top choice, however, is lemon olive oil, which she adds to make a delicious, slightly tart pound cake. She says Steve enjoys dipping the moist dessert in blueberry balsamic vinegar—his favorite (And mine, too. The balsamic tang seems to intensify the luscious ripe blueberry flavor.)
The shop also stocks a large section of sea salts—from black, pungent Hiwa Kai, to delicate pink Himalayan. O’Sullivan says they’re excellent for adding another layer of flavor to your dishes. You can purchase cookbooks, soaps and gorgeous Tunisian olive wood items such as bowls, cutting boards and serving trays in the store as well. And don’t forget the olives.