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July 2012

Places to Go: Old Town Oil

Whether you're making pesto or bruschetta, or anointing yourself for a very special occasion, olive oil is a fantastic item to have around the house.

But the past few years have seen a fair amount of corruption brought to light in the olive oil production community. There's a lot of false marketing of uber-promiscuous olive oils going on, despite the existence of an International Olive Council dedicated, among other things, to preventing such scandals. It's all laid out in shocking detail in Tom Mueller's 2011 book — yes, an entire book — Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.

So the next time you need a bottle of really fantastic extra-virgin olive oil, don't go just anywhere…head to a Chicago shop you know you can trust! Try Old Town Oil, one of the stops on Chicago Food Planet's Second City Classic Neighborhood Food Experience in Gold Coast & Old Town.

John Dine and his three brothers opened their first shop smack in the middle of Old Town's Wells Street shopping district in 2007, and they've have been working for years to cultivate relationships with the best olive oil and balsamic vinegar producers. (There's also a second shop now on Evanston's Central Street.)

Old Town Oil TapsBoth stores feature olive oil and balsamic vinegar "on tap," from various countries of origin and even different flavors. It's a treat for the senses!

Some of our favorite oils include their Meyer Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Rosemary Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Walnut Oil. More into balsamics? Try the Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar or Aceto Balsamico (12 Year Style) – you really can’t go wrong. Don’t know what you want? Their staff is AMAZING and will tell you what you need. Perfect gift for a local who likes to cook often.


Right now Chicago Food Planet fans can get 15% off  on all online orders, using code FOODPLANET at oldtownoil.com (valid until Jan. 14th, 2018). oldtownoil.com


Before you go, here are a few factoids to impress your friends and help you maximize your Old Town Oil experience.

  • Olive oil is technically a fruit juice, not an oil.
  • Extra-virgin doesn't refer to the people who make the olive oil. It refers to the high-quality grade of the oil and, according to the Old Town Oil website, the naturally low levels of free oleic acid, a naturally occurring fatty acid in olives. "Extra-virgin" olive oil must have less than 1 percent oleic acid. (Science!)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil is cold-pressed, which means it hasn't been heated at all to help the extraction process along. Raw foodies love extra-virgin olive oil because it's considered truly raw thanks to this process.
  • In addition to high levels of monounsaturated (good) fats, olive oil also contains special antioxidants called polyphenols, which can help reduce tooth decay, among other benefits.
  • Even the best olive oils don't last forever! They should be stored in tinted, airtight glass containers to keep unwanted light and oxygen out for maximum freshness — and used within two years.

Don't forget! Get 15% off  on all online orders, using code FOODPLANET at oldtownoil.com (valid until Jan. 14th, 2018). oldtownoil.com

Old Town Oil
1520 N. Wells St. | 312-787-9595
1924 Central St. (Evanston) | 847-864-0487

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