Friday, January 10, 2014

Secolari Slips Into The Columbia Mall With Flavors

Oils at Secolari in the Columbia Mall

The new Secolari store in the Columbia Mall is a deceptively simple-looking place.

A large store with containers on two walls.  They sell olive oils, vinegars and pastas.  That could sound ridiculously simple except that Secolari's offerings are creatively complex.

Walk the store and taste everything.  Pure olive oils at the front that show off the range of natural flavors -- from mild to peppery.  Flavored olive oils along both walls -- ranging from fruits like lemon or lime to herbs like basil, garlic or rosemary to "spice mixes" like tandoori masala.  Then vinegars -- both white and red -- with flavors than run from fruits through exotics like spicy peppers.

Taste everything.  The Secolari folks are proud of their products.  They're also charging more than $20 per bottle.  So you can taste anything by pouring a dash in a plastic container, and they have water and bread to clean your palate.  Mix and match.  Try a dash of the lime oil and a dash of the hot pepper vinegar.  Try that same lime oil with a blackberry vinegar.

On the one hand, Secolari offers products for serious cooks.  They can try all these flavor combinations and come up with great ideas.  On the other hand, flavored oils and vinegars are a wonderfully simple tool for people who don't have great time for cooking.  Secolari has recipes, and those flavor pairs make really simple marinades or salad dressings even if you just mix a pair that you like.  By just shaking them together, you could jazz up salads, roasted vegetables, chicken, fish and so much more.

Again, it's more than $20 a bottle.  That even slowed me down.  I bought one of each, and I marinated fish Sunday night for fish tacos.  I'm a huge believer that great flavor takes time.  That's why I think you can great value from ingredients where someone else has already invested great effort -- like sausages, olives, sauces and oils or vinegars like these.  A few years ago, I discovered that an expensive bottle of balsamic vinegar was worth the investment because a few teaspoons transformed a plate of sautéed chard.  That has been a staple for me, and I could imagine these Secolari oils and vinegars filling similar roles.

Secolari has a working display kitchen in the back.  I assume they'll do demonstrations or classes.  My one tip:  Don't drink the oil or vinegar.  Push a dash in the plastic cup and then just touch the mixture with your tongue.  We tried almost two dozen different items, and it would have been too much if we had actually drank a shot of each.

Columbia Mall
1300 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD 21044

NEAR:  Secolari is in the new "outdoor" section of the mall.  This is a long outdoor corridor that connects the parking lot between Sears and the movies with the second floor of the mall near Lululemon and J Crew.


Marcia said...

The stores with flavored olive oils & vinegars has been trending for a couple years. There is one in Frederick (or used to be), even in Hickory, NC.
It IS fun to taste the oils & vinegars and imagine how to use them. Also, a great gift !!!

Annie Rie said...

They also sell Pappardelles pasta. Which we first found in Manheim PA at the market.

Casual Gourmet and Secolari are the two local sources of this handmade pasta.

Their vegetable based pappardelle, linguine and fettucine are incredibly good.

I love taking well made simple ingredients and making dishes equivalent to restaurant quality.

I will have to check out their oils.

Anonymous said...

Hello All,
Thank you so much for the Post HowChow! We are so glad that you enjoyed our store.

Secolari's Phone Number is


Unknown said...

I received some Secolari oil and vinegar as a gift, and they are just delicious! Good tips, HowChow!

Anonymous said...

I went shopping at both Lebherz in Frederick and E·N·Olivier in Baltimore in December.

Jen Blacker said...

Looking forward to visiting Secolari's this Saturday. I make my own salad dressing so finding some good oils will be fun.

Angie said...

Selection is wonderful. Service was exceptional. According to the store manager, the business is owned by a family from Clarksville. We went in for a house warming gift and came out with that and more. The basil olive oil taste like summer in a bottle!

Anthony of Columbia, MD said...

Al and Erin led me on a culinary tour of oils and vinegars that I will long remember! Even the salts are amazing! If you love olive oil, this is the place to visit when you are in Columbia. My personal favorites—Basil and Rosemary.

K8teebug said...

I am addicted to their vinegar and oil. It has helped me make better salads! Plus, they last a while. so much better than store bought dressing.

Anonymous said...

I've been to this location several times. Their products are simply AMAZING. I've tried/purchased several different oils (basil olive oil is my favorite), vinegars (pacific spice is my favorite), and balsamics (blackberry balsamic is my favorite). I've also tried a bunch of their pastas and salts as well...I absolutely love this place and everyone who works there. Angelina is warm, bubbly, and knows her stuff when it comes to the pairings!!! This year alone, every single one of my family members has received a birthday present from here :o) - I'm actually headed there tonight to get my brother's gift!