What I once knew about olive oil could fill a tasting thimble in front of a fusti at Olive Lucy in Jenkintown, or what a fusti is or does for that matter. Then Rishona Myers’ infectious enthusiasm for this ancient fruit turned me into a fan.
Olive Lucy opened in Jenkintown on Black Friday, 2017, just in time for the Christmas shopping rush and fills a need in Jenkintown and the towns around for people passionate about cooking.
Rishona graciously and expertly explained the finer points of olive oil production and application. Yes, you can go to the supermarket and pull down a bottle of a blended mass-market oil made with olives grown in any given country and crushed at some indeterminate date in the distant past, but turning olives into an extra virgin oil requires a high degree of skill steeped in centuries of tradition.
As most people will know, the best olive oil to get is “extra virgin“, but despite what some might assume, Italy has no monopoly on quality olives. In olive oil, like wine and scotch, pedigree means everything, but fine olives today can come not only from the Mediterranean, but also from South America, California, or even Australia.
For the uninitiated, the education begins in the store with samples from the four fustis on display. On my visit, the stainless steel orbs dispensed oils from Italy, Spain, and Chile, each with a distinct intensity and flavor profile.
“All of the olive oil we sell is crushed no later than six months before they arrive,” Rishona explains. “And we won’t sell any crushed more than eighteen months ago”. Unlike wine, which olive oil shares some heritage and production methods, it does not age well. “You can tell it when it turns rancid, usually after about two years. Then you should just throw it out.”
To find the better olive oils, look for the crushed date. A bottle with an expiration date doesn’t tell you how fresh the oil actually is.
Besides the pure extra virgin oils, Olive Lucy also sells a wide array of infused oils, some like the Tuscan Herb which is crushed with oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and garlic. Too predictable for you? Then try the Chipotle olive oil, which brings a smokey heat to the mix. Rishona recommends this with shrimp or drizzled over refried beans.
I could go on another five paragraphs describing just the three balsamic vinegars I tried, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the aged dark chocolate balsamic. It’s not just for salads anymore. Rishona recommends drizzling this on gelato, and I suggest we all take her advice.
Rishona’s background did not beat an obvious path to olive oil peddling. Before jumping into the risky world of storefront retail, she worked in event planning, both as an independent and in the corporate world, but she always had a love of good food.
She transitioned out of the nine-to-five workday gradually, working part time for Olive Lucy’s founders Harold and Sharon Kaytes at their first store in Huntington Valley. Deteriorating health required Harold to step away from the operation, which would bring Rishona further in. In early 2017, Rishona purchased the business, and she hasn’t looked back.
“I looked around at the competition, and saw that I needed more than one store.” Learning of the empty space in Jenkintown but the short window to open before the Christmas season, she went to work with Lindy properties, and said with no little gratitude, “The landlord made it happen.”
Olive Lucy (merely a play on “I Love Lucy”, there is no Lucy) is located at 301 Leedom Street in Jenkintown (215.690.4318) and at Valley Court Yard, 2531 Huntingdon Pike, Huntingdon Valley, PA (267.722.8251}. Go to Olive-lucy.com for a wealth of information, recipes, history, and an online store.
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