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Monday, Aug. 3, 2015

In the Oil Business

New store offers more than 50 types of olive oils and vinegars


New store offers more than 50 types of olive oils and vinegars

A new sensory journey for the taste buds has opened in Shreveport.

Bella Nonnas Olive Oil and Vinegar Tasting Bar opened June 12 and offers more than 50 olive oils and vinegars to delight the palate.

Friends and owners Carline Procell and Barbie VandeGevel opened the shop after a unique experience on a vacation together.

“When we were on a girls’ vacation a few years ago, we discovered a store that sold olive oil and vinegar in Pensacola, and Barbie and I spent a great amount of time in there shopping and sent oils home and continued to seek out stores like it,” Procell said.

“We found a course at the University of California-Davis that is an advanced sensory evaluation of olive oil, and we flew out and took the course,” she said. “We became qualified to sit on a panel and judge olive oils; we thought we would do that to see if we were still interested and to really know the product. We learned everything to know about tasting olive oil and then some.”

The inventory at Bella Nonnas brings an international flavor to the area. “These oils come from around the world; they come from olives that are crushed in the northern hemisphere in October and November and oils from the southern hemisphere. I have an oil right now that’s from Australia, so every six months, we are getting olive oil that has just recently been crushed,” Procell said. “The key to olive oil is the freshness; you want to know when it was crushed and not when it expires because no one knows when it expires. With vinegar, you want it to be aged, so with our vinegars, I have an 18-yearold traditional balsamic vinegar; I have white and dark balsamic. We have about 50 different varieties of olive oils and vinegars in the store right now and have some gourmet oils also like roasted sesame, white truffle, roasted almond and roasted walnut.”

Not only do the oils and vinegars have a wonderful flavor, they also have wonderful health benefits as well, Procell said. “Some of the side effects of consuming olive oil is that you lose weight. One of the side effects is that you lower your cholesterol, you lower your blood pressure, you suppress breast cancer cells from activating, and the oxidation in your blood stream is lowered. Those are just some documented things,” she said. “We have the book ‘The Pink Ribbon Diet’ by Dr. Mary Flynn out of Brown University, and she has given us a letter that we can present to local doctors or health practitioners or hospitals talking about the benefits of the ultra premium olive oil that we carry. The olive oil that I have in my store is high in polyphenol, which is active in the oil that helps with the health benefits.”

Bella Nonnas will offer cooking classes and will also have guest chefs coming in to cook meals with the oils and vinegars to teach people how to use them.

“We are going to have what we call Olive Oil 101 classes to teach people what they need to know about any olive oil, whether they are buying it at the grocery store, a market or a store like ours. In those classes, we encourage people to bring their olive oil from home because they may have a great oil, but you don’t want to have a rancid or fusty oil, and that’s what we would like to educate people about,” Procell said. “When you take a blood orangeinfused olive oil and combine it with a cara cara orange vanilla white balsamic vinegar, there’s no words to explain that experience to you. We bake a regular box of brownies and instead of using the vegetable oil, we use the blood orange olive oil. And then you can take the baked brownies and put dark chocolate balsamic vinegar or espresso balsamic vinegar or mango balsamic vinegar on top. The combinations are limitless,” she said.

Bella Nonnas is located at 1409 E. 70th St., Suite 107, in Shreveport, an area Procell and VandeGevel sought out. “This is a growing part of town, and it will only continue to grow,” Procell said. For more information about their upcoming Olive Oil 101 classes, visit them or call 798-6602.

“We are a tasting bar, and we encourage you to taste. We want you to go around and try everything and find out what you like,” she said. “That’s what we learned in our panel; we all live in our own sensory world. There’s a lot of different uses. It’s not just salad and marinades.”

–Mandy Byrd


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