Olive our love: Grass Valley’s Olive Groove gives the ‘oil’ treatment | TheUnion.com

Olive our love: Grass Valley’s Olive Groove gives the ‘oil’ treatment

Jake West fills an olive oil bottle from one of his store's many taps. "We are really good at finding out what (people are) looking for, and helping them really be excited about two ingredients changing their food's taste," West's wife and co-owner Christina said.
Photo by Jennifer Nobles

Though its shelves are lined with a myriad of different olive oils, The Olive Groove has much more to offer than just the delicious liquid with a dedicated following.

Just ask Jake and Christina West, who own the downtown Grass Valley specialty food shop. In addition to an extensive assortment of olive oils, the couple sells specialty balsamic oils on tap, syrups, honeys, rubs and marinades.

The Wests have owned The Olive Groove for over two years and are passionate about all their Mill Street storefront has to offer. They say it’s not uncommon for a patron to walk in and have no more than a vague idea of what they are looking for, and that’s where Christina and Jake’s expertise is best used.

“Not everyone knows how to cook,” Jake said. “A majority of people come in with just one flavor in mind, and then we will kind of just open up their palates.”

The Olive Groove offers samples of nearly every product in its store, the list of which is growing steadily.

“We have a selection of salts rubs and marinades — about 24 different varieties. A few hand blends are made here in the store,” Jake said. “I started making a couple of them about a year ago and it just took off. Everybody really likes being able to choose different seasonings and salts that don’t have any artificial flavorings.”

Among the rubs and marinades, shelf space is shared with a selection of locally sourced honeys, soaps made in partnership with Cosmic Roots Ranch, and an assortment of loose leaf teas.

The Wests contend there is something in their store to fit every taste.

Jake recently started making balms, which employ the numerous topical benefits of olive oil.

“It’s literally just our olive oil and a product made from olive that is a thickening agent,” Christina said. “So it’s 100 percent olive oil in a thicker form and then he puts in a couple of different essential oils that we sell. It’s super hydrating. Great for wound care, for skin cancer … It’s really healing.”

Being in the olive oil business, the Wests have learned a lot about the wide variety of types available.

The owners strive to carry as much local product as possible, but honors the abundance of product sourced from all over the world.

“We follow the harvest of the olives which happens twice globally,” Christina said. “We love to provide the different oils from all over the world because they do taste so different.

“Olive Oil is a ticking clock. Once you pluck it from the tree, you have two years. So we swap harvests in hemispheres so that it is always superbly fresh.”

Much like the variety of olive oils, tanks of balsamic vinegar take up as much space in the brick-walled store.

In fact, Christina said the most popular item is the traditional dark balsamic, an 18-year-aged varietal that pairs with everything from salad dressing to bread dip, with little need for reduction.

Christina and Jake are grateful for the opportunity to support local artisans and give back to the community.

“We also want to try and create communities within that community,” Jake said. “There are foodie people and people who like certain gifts. For foodies, this should be a destination. (For) people who come to our community visiting, if they want to see what we have to offer as a food community, this would be a great place for somebody to stop in.”

The Olive Groove is at 126 Mill Street in Grass Valley. It is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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