By Dillon Tabish, 1-16-13
||Caption: David Cohen, manager and part owner, organizes bottles of balsamic vinegar at Genesis Kitchen, an artisan olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop in Whitefish. Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
WHITEFISH – Greeks regarded olive oil as a prized natural asset in the ancient world. For centuries it was a cornerstone of Mediterranean culture, serving considerable monetary and medicinal purposes. The “father of medicine,” the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, even dubbed it “the great therapeutic.” Modern research has further reinforced the benefits of the syrupy extract, ranging from bolstering the immune system to combating heart disease and various forms of cancer.
As dietary health professionals working in Whitefish, David Cohen, Samantha Ray and Sheri Lynn already knew the advantages of including olive oil as a routine ingredient. But they had no idea how delicious it could be.
At a training seminar last fall in the San Francisco Bay Area, the local residents experienced a traditional tasting of fresh, artisan olive oils from around the world. Each of them sipped small teaspoons of various oils that possessed incredible subtleties in flavor. After each slurp a unique sensation bloomed in their mouth.
“I was floored. We were all floored at our first tasting,” said Cohen. “We were just bouncing off the wall. You get excited and have to walk away because you can only taste so many.”
They returned home eager to share their discovery. Genesis Kitchen opened its doors at 140 Lupfer Ave. in November. The cozy store is lined with almost 50 jars of specialty olive oils and balsamic vinegars from Italy, Chile and beyond. The bottles for purchase range from $10 to $28.
Along with a shelf of extra virgin oils, Genesis Kitchen includes a selection of infused oils, like wild mushroom and sage or organic garlic, and a delicious line of flavored balsamics, like wild blueberry and dark chocolate. Each jar details where the specific olive grove was located and when the oil was hand pressed. This meticulous emphasis resembles a winery, where vintners proudly emphasize the origin of each batch.
“The growers and our importer are really invested in each batch,” Cohen said. “This is a batch, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s just like a wine. Every year is different.”
Genesis Kitchen also shares another similar trait with wineries or breweries. To introduce the boundless qualities, flavors and uses of olive oil, customers are encouraged to undergo a hands-on tasting, similar to sampling wine.
While many Americans see olive oil as an ordinary item on the grocery list and not something to sip, others consider it a tasty specialty.
Containers of assorted olive oils, foreground, and balsamic vinegars, left, are seen at the recently opened Genesis Kitchen in Whitefish. Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
“You’ll be an expert in a few minutes,” Cohen said during a recent tasting.
Taste buds are flavor receptors, as Cohen explained, and different olives can complement with a unique zest. There are also the various health benefits, which were the origin behind Genesis Kitchen.
Cohen, Ray and Lynn are the co-owners of Genesis Transformation, an organization founded five years ago in Whitefish and focused on health, wellbeing and fitness. The three co-owners produced cookbooks and other resources to help steer a healthy lifestyle. More and more, olive oil emerged as a common ingredient in thriving diets. The substance is rich in monounsaturated fat, called “good fat,” and is also a natural anti-inflammatory. However these powerful benefits can be lost in mass-production for low-cost grocery store products, which commonly originate from a blend of low quality vegetables at random groves.
Genesis Kitchen imports its oils from Veronica Foods Company, an Oakland-based producer that has harvested specialty groves around the world since 1924. The olives are fresh and picked when they’re ripe, then carefully pressed for up to six hours. The result is something uniquely rich and fresh, yet beckoning back to ancient Greece.
“This is what your olive oil is supposed to taste like. It’s tasted like this since the dawn of man, literally. This is one of the oldest foods and one of the oldest medicines,” Cohen said.
David Cohen fills a bottle of Eureka Lemon-fused olive oil for a customer at Genesis Kitchen in Whitefish. Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
He continued, “We have deep roots here. We have a commitment to bringing the best quality food we can to our valley.”
Genesis Kitchen is located at 140 Lupfer Ave. in Whitefish and is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 730-1449 or visit genesis-kitchen.com
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