WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTOS l OLIVE CART
The staff at Olive Cart specialize in creating flavor explosions that will send your taste buds to another galaxy. For eight years, owner Dave Drees owned and operated an award-winning bed and breakfast known for “Best Breakfast.” It was his love for culinary arts along with flavorful and healthy food that drove him to take his first olive cart — yes, an actual olive cart — to a mall in Grand Rapids, carrying a select inventory of olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
From that start with a simple olive cart, Drees saw a great demand for these high-quality, hand-selected gourmet products. This led to the opening of the first Olive Cart store in South Haven, with his St. Joseph store to follow a couple of years later.
Visiting Olive Cart is a taste experience. The staff is ready and willing to walk you through tastings, creating custom combinations of flavored oils and balsamics based on your own unique palette. Sweet, savory, or a combination of the two, no concoction is shunned! With flavors like Crème Brûlée White Balsamic, Lighthouse Lime Olive Oil, Scallion Greens Oil, Key Lime Avocado Oil, and Grapefruit White Balsamic, do I need to go on? All balsamics are aged for 25 years to create a truly rich flavor that is not found in chain store vinegar. The olive oils carried at Olive Cart are first cold pressed, making them the highest-quality, purest olive oil possible, along with offering maximum health benefits.
The inventory at Olive Cart goes far beyond tantalizing oils and vinegars. Drees prides himself on creating gourmet products from his own recipes with Michigan-grown produce whenever possible. These appetizing treats are handcrafted and tested by Drees and his staff, family, and friends to create flawless taste sensations. Of course, the store carries a wide variety of olives stuffed with everything from jalapenos and blue cheese to garlic and habaneros. Complementary products like pasta and sauces, relishes, salsas, tapenades, fruit spreads, and chutneys along with spices and pickled veggies are on the shelves as well. Nearly all of the products in the store are available for a taste test, so just ask!
New products at Olive Cart include Mango Fiesta Olive Oil and Cranberry Pear White Balsamic Vinegar as well as a new line of gourmet pasta. Drees is confident they will be big hits with his customers, both new and longstanding. Olive Cart’s website is loaded with creative recipes to help you find inspired ways to use their gourmet foods. Recipes like Creamy Eggplant and Caramelized Onion Dip, Black Walnut Garlic Mushroom Roast, and Asiago and Fig Spread – they all sound incredible. Stop in, fill a bag with yummy, tasty goodies, then head home and try out some new recipes. I’m sure your family and friends will help with taste tests!
Olive Cart South Haven – 424 Phoenix Road, South Haven, MI 49090 / (269) 637-4754
Olive Cart St Joseph – 421 State Street, St. Joseph MI 49085 / (269) 2891-0120