This article is adapted from a story by Joan Leotta published in our sister publication Kicks! weekly entertainment guide.Once a unique experience reserved for visitors of California’s many fine vineyards and olive groves, olive oil tasting — sampling, savoring and enjoying tiny cups of premium flavored product from all over the globe — is now one of the many great things to do in Myrtle Beach.
Thanks to the husband-and-wife team of Darya and John Suddreth, owners of The Olive Shoppe, Myrtle Beach shoppers and foodies can delight in trying and purchasing premium olive oils infused with herbs and other flavors.
A quick stop through this quaint Barefoot Landing shop and you’ll be able to samples delectable varieties from California, Spain and around the world, as well as trying a number of wonderfully aged balsamic vinegars, both plain and infused.
A healthy accident
The Suddreths, who live in Murrells Inlet, haven’t always been in the oil business, but became enthusiast much by accident when one of their three daughters was diagnosed with an illness.
“At 28 months of age, Sydney was diagnosed with diabetes. We immediately started to research and practice healthy eating,” says Darya.
Darya found that when she started cooking with those oils and vinegars the children seemed to enjoy the vegetables.
“As the children grew it became harder to get them to eat vegetables. We ran across some herb-infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars and liked the flavors.”
Soon Darya learned to marinate, steam and sauté with these oils and vinegars and was able to begin making food that has the appeal of a high level restaurant, but that is easy to make and much less expensive than going out.
In 2011, they followed their passion for healthy eating and cooking and founded The Olive Shoppe in Myrtle Beach and the following year, decided to open a second shop in the Cotton Exchange in Wilmington, N.C.
The tasting experience
It doesn’t take long to realize a trip to this North Myrtle Beach shop is more than just another quick stop during a day full of shopping.
The experience is great, and once you get inside and begin talking to the staff, you’ll realize you could easily lose an hour or more sampling and learning about all the different products.
“Customers come in, and we invite them to sit at our tasting bar,” she said. “Oils of their choice [from our menu] are poured into 1-ounce cups and served with cubes of white bread or angel food cake.”
Darya says she enjoys urging customers who stop by to come in and try the tasting experience.
“Many people come by and ask if we are a wine shop. Most we see have never tried olive oil tasting. We are happy to show them the experience.”
She says one of her favorite “tastes” is to pair the chocolate balsamic and orange olive oil on a piece of tasting cake.
“The balsamic are best on the cake. They can taste as many oils and vinegars as they wish.”
In addition to infused oils from Spain and California — where much of the product is from — customers can also try bottled oils from olive groves all over the world, including such far flung regions as Morocco, various regions of Italy and even Australia.
“We order the oils and vinegars already bottled to be sure they are extra sanitary. Our turnover is such that our supply is always under three months old [premium olive oil should be under six months old]. Sometimes, in the summer, we run out, but usually we have some of everything in stock,” said Darya Suddreth.
The Olive Shoppe also sells gourmet olives and dirty martini mix, as well as tasting supplies and other related items.
For $17-18 each you can get you hands on a 376 ml bottle (about 13oz.) of the oils in the shop, which make great gifts for friends and family. And while the price tag may seem expensive, Darya stresses that each bottle will last a long time and can be used in many ways.
“These infused oils and balsamic vinegars are a good way to introduce healthy eating and gourmet cooking to people so they can eat better,” she said.
The Olive Shoppe is located at 4894 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach, in Barefoot Landing shopping complex. For more information call 855-200-6457 or shop online at www.beacholiveoils.com.