Story and photos by Karen Weber
Just a couple of doors away from Paradise Pantry on Main Street in Ventura,
We Olive also specializes in local products. You can taste the finest California olive oils and other olive products from around the world. Little spoons and pretzel sticks are available, so you can sample mustards, spreads and other goodies. Heidi Henning served us samples of extra-virgin Mission olive oil with a smooth buttery flavor and Olio Nuovo, the first press, which had more of a peppery bite. We sipped aged balsamic vinegar imported from Italy. (It’s the only thing imported because it’s the best, Henning said.) Then we mixed a bit of the balsamic with Meyer lemon olive oil — Heidi’s favorite blend for salad dressing. We Olive is a refill shop. It will fill bottles of various sizes with your choice of oil, then refill the bottle when you bring it back.
Our final stop was at Palermo Coffee & Gelato. We could sample as many of their 18
gelato flavors as we wanted, then pick one for a full scoop. It was a hot day and the place was buzzing. Several flavors were almost out, including creme brulee. Coppa mista — pistachio, vanilla, chocolate and almond flavors — was popular with our group. I was very happy with my Bavarian mint. Palermo roasts its own coffee beans there, too. The place smelled delightful.
Tour guide Maureen Durkin set us loose at Palermo, which was just around the corner from where we’d started. Tour patrons could return to any of the food stops for discount shopping and dining that day or elect to visit interesting local sites — maybe visit historic Mission Buenaventura or the statue of Junipero Serra that stands in front of city hall. The beach is only a few blocks away, too.
It was a fun food adventure in Ventura, an unexpected treat one county west of L.A.
For more information on Ventura Food Tours, call 805-295-8687 or go to www.venturafoodtours.com.
294 E. Main St. 805-648-6166
Palermo Coffee & Gelato
321 E. Main St. 805-643-3070