Most people think olive oil is, well, olive oil.

The Musso family begs to differ.

And they have all the proof right there in their shop, Season To Taste, on Jefferson Highway.

Since 2015, Ginger and Chris Musso and daughter Megan have touted the health and delicious benefits of ultra premium olive oils as well as balsamic vinegars.  

A walk through Season To Taste olive oils. Staff photo by Robin Miller

"I tell people not to put it in their pantries until they realize that this is their salt and pepper, it's their butter and their vegetable oil," said Ginger Musso. "I'm trying to make them realize that they can use olive oil for everything. You can cook with it, you can finish with it, you can snack with it and you can use it as a skin product. There's no added sugars or salts. It's just olive oil."

The shop carries 60 olive oils and balsamic vinegars produced by Veronica Foods.

"Veronica Foods is owned by Veronica and Mike Bradley," Musso said. "Her products are different from others because her farmers for the olive oils are all over the world. You can break it down into the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere. They have opposite harvesting seasons, so every six months, I have a different harvest from a different part of the world."

In a required training session at the Veronica Foods production facility in Oakland, California, Musso learned about the company's variety of olive oils and how they're processed.

Season To Taste carries four types of olive oils, in a variety of flavors.

Musso explained that extra-virgin olive oil is made from crushed olives produced by farmers in California, Spain, Chile, Italy and Africa. Nothing is added, and the ultra premium product is certified to be fresh.

Infused olive oils, she said, are made with fresh extra-virgin olive oil infused with essential oils or extracts from fruits, herbs, vegetables and traditional seasoning blends. 

"Our Tuscan Herb (with oregano, rosemary, marjoram and garlic) is an infused olive oil, and it is the top seller for Veronica Foods," Musso said. "It was our top seller for the first year, but then that changed. Now the garlic-infused oil is the top seller for our shop."

A third olive oil variety is called fused, where ripe olives are crushed with fresh fruits, herbs or vegetables to create an oil with a bright taste. The cayenne flavor made with cayenne peppers is the top-selling fused olive oil at the shop.

Finally, there's gourmet oils, in which the oil of white truffles, black truffles or roasted Japanese sesame oil has been infused with extra-virgin olive oil.

The olive oils line one wall in the Bocage Village shop. The other wall is filled with Season To Taste's three varieties of balsamic vinegars, two of which are produced through the traditional solera barrel aging method of Modena, Italy.

Like the olive oils, the vinegars have no thickeners, sweeteners or artificial flavorings.

There's the dark balsamic, with grapes aged for a minimum of 12 years in old, dark oak barrels. These vinegars are robust and can be used for cheese boards, as a marinade and brushed on meats. And, they are delicious drizzled over ice cream.

The white balsamic vinegars are aged up to 12 years in new oak barrels. Their crisp flavors add a pop to salads, cocktails and salsas or can be used as a sweet glaze for meats.

The shop also carries specialty vinegars, including pinot noir wine vinegar and molto denissimo, which is extremely rich and dense with almost a glaze-like quality.

"We are a tasting room, where normally I have little cups out everywhere for my customers," Musso said. "It's hands-on, and they can mix oils and vinegars and taste. But with COVID, I've removed the cups. We can still get tastes for anybody, but we go and wash up. We're just trying to lay low for a little while and be as safe as possible, and we're hoping things will return to normal so people can come in and have fun with it again."

In pre-pandemic times, Musso offered parties, where everyone could learn the many ways oils and vinegars can be used.

"There are just so many ways, and it's all I use," Musso said. "There's even a butter flavored olive oil that you can use to make popcorn. It has no dairy, and it's delicious. It's healthy. It's all I need."


Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com