As soon as you walk into Fiore Artisan Olive Oil & Vinegars on Rockland’s Main Street, you get the feeling that this tiny shop has been a fixture in town for quite a while. In fact, Fiore’s is a newbie when compared to other in-town attractions like Windjammer tours, lobster festivals, and the Farnsworth Art Museum. This tiny shop opened here in 2010 occupying its space well by lining several dozen stainless steel Fustis along two walls which dispense a wide variety of unfiltered Extra Virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars.
As you may know, olive oil labeling isn’t exactly the most transparent or truthful method of advertising. Since there are no globally enforceable regulations stipulating what in fact constitutes extra virgin olive oil, it’s safe to assume that there’s a ton of deception out there on the part of importers and distributors. It is for this reason that Fiore owners Pat and Nancy O’Brian personally “chase the crush” across the world for first cold pressed oil and bring it back to their tasting room for you to sample.
Each olive growing season is different due to weather and temperature fluctuations making it important to annually visit key growing regions in person. The IOC (International Olive Council) standards set the baseline criteria for the lab analysis of each selected oil. Once harvested, these oils are ready for customers within weeks.
When it comes to balsamics, Fiore just as carefully sources a full array of “aceto balsamico condiment” hailing from Modena, Italy. They are made using the traditional Solera method, a process of transferring the cooked grape through a series of larger to smaller wooden barrels over 12-18 years. After tasting flavors like blood orange, chocolate, and passion fruit, you definitely start getting ideas of possibly using over ice cream or drizzled over berries and melon rather than restricting them to plain Jane salads.
The last part of your visit is to of course have a few of your favorites individually bottled and capped right in front of you. And if you happen to be lucky enough to be staying at any of the Historic Inns Rockland, sample bottles of both oil and vinegar are given to you as a parting gift.
Photos courtesy of Fiore Olive Oils & Steve Mirsky