Seeing an olive oasis

Seeing an olive oasis

New olive oil store selling the “best of the best” in liquid gold

By Emma Jarman

The interior of The Olive Oasis on East Main Street in downtown Troy.

The interior of The Olive Oasis on East Main Street in downtown Troy.

Olive oil is an ancient ingredient, more than 6,000 years old, that has long been held to contain mystical properties. Homer called it “liquid gold.” The ancient Greeks rubbed it all over their bodies (and some people still do!)  The olive tree sustained ancient economies through rise and fall. Now, olive oil at The Olive Oasis is doing its part to fulfill its towering legacy.

Most 21-year-olds are more concerned about how to tap a keg and pairing the right shoes with the right Friday night, not tapping a fusti and pairing flavors of the freshest olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars. Lucas Schlumpf, 21, owner of The Olive Oasis, 7 E. Main St. in Troy, is the opposite.

Schlumpf, a transplant from Pinehurst, N.C., came to Troy with a plan. Inspired by the Green Gate Olive Company in Pinehurst and the consequent success of his aunt’s business in Pennsylvania, he decided that it was time for him to start making his own dreams come true.

“I’ve always wanted to start a small business and be a small business owner,” said Schlumpf, “I just never thought I’d get into selling olive oil.”

It makes sense since he has never washed upon the shores of Italy or sunbathed in the Mediterranean. But in recent years, as a student at Sinclair Community College studying health and fitness, Schlumpf was impressed with the modern relevance of the superfood and took on the business venture.

Here’s how it works: You walk in and are greeted by rows and rows of tables weighted down by massive, stainless steel canisters called fusti. You are then invited to meander the rows dribbling tastes out of the small taps onto bits of bread from the Bake House, the local bread store Olive Oasis gets all their breads from, and pick your favorite and decide what you would like to take home. The Olive Oasis has 54 fustis tapped and ready to go, half with regular, fused, flavored and infused olive oils and the other 27 with aged balsamic vinegars.

Ten of the olive oils are plain, unflavored with notes ranging from smooth and grassy to bold and peppery (dependent on the amount of polyphenols found in the olive). Flavors of olive oil include wild mushroom and sage, cilantro and roasted onion, and a butter flavored olive oil that could completely replace the solid stuff and is even drizzled over popcorn for that (vegan) movie theater taste! Vinegar varieties range from fruity like raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, pomegranate and fig to exotic like dark chocolate, espresso and champagne.

“This is the best of the best olive oil you can find in Ohio right now,” said Schlumpf.

Not only for its unique flavors and business concept, but the olives are actually good. Shipped over from Oakland, Calif. by Veronica’s Foods, the olives are never more than six months out of the press by the time they get to The Olive Oasis and, as Schlumpf said, with olive oil, “freshness is key.” While a good balsamic vinegar should be aged in an oak barrel for at least 12 years to be worth its salt (or stainless steel barrel for white balsamics), olive oil needs to be fresh. The olive is a fruit, and with any fruit the longer it sits, the more the healthy and antioxidizing properties leach out of it. Olives are found to reduce the risk of heart attacks and coronary diseases and are also a natural pain reliever and antioxidant, said Schlumpf, but, again, freshness is key. Looks like the ancients had a few things right when it came to their valuation of the liquid.

Thankfully, while the South Beach and Atkins diet all phased themselves out quite nicely, olive oil and its properties are here to stay.

“We have a ribbon cutting coming up the 22nd of November,” said Schlumpf. On that day, the city of Troy, members of the chamber of commerce and the mayor will come to memorialize the opening of his business. The Olive Oasis is also available to host private tasting parties where a customer can reserve a block of time, usually after hours, and invite his or her friends over to have a wine tasting and discover some of the unique flavors The Olive Oasis has to offer. In the future, Schlumpf aims to set up some cooking classes in his shop to further educate and entertain both foodies and newbies.

While Schlumpf hasn’t been in the business forever, and his knowledge is still a growing database, it is obvious his business is his passion. Singlehandedly started by Schlumpf, The Olive Oasis is a treasure trove for those looking to be a little more healthy and to find alternatives to grocery store oils, and also for anyone looking just to make their food taste better.

“My favorite [olive oil] right now is the Tuscan Herb,” recommended Schlumpf. “It’s sundried tomatoes and rosemary. I use it on any kind of grilled chicken and pasta, it’s very versatile.”

And remember: one part vinegar to three parts oil to make a perfect salad dressing. Especially when it’s The Olive Oasis’ strawberry aged balsamic with their fresh basil olive oil.

The Olive Oasis is located at 7 E. Main St. in Troy. The store is open Monday – Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Sunday. Look for The Olive Oasis on Facebook or call (937) 552-7322 for more information or to talk to Lucas Schlumpf himself.

Reach DCP freelance writer Emma Jarman at EmmaJarman@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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