5 minute read

The Wild Olive

A visit to The Wild Olive is like a trip around the world for your taste buds.

Located at 37 West Main Street, The Wild Olive provides a wide variety of the world’s freshest, most premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegars.

Store owner Michelle Damrell is celebrating the store being a mainstay in Nashville for 10 years.

“There was no store like it around here and it seemed like a great fit for the area,” Michelle said. “Growing up, my parents introduced me to a variety of foods and flavors. I guess you could say I have always been somewhat of a “foodie.’”

Michelle describes her mom, Carol, as “Betty Crocker.”

“My mom is an exceptional cook. She can cook anything and her food is always delicious,” Michelle said. “She is the one I call if I have a question about cooking; she calls it ‘cooking by phone.’ I definitely got my love of cooking from my mom.”

Carol volunteers frequently at the store and is the official store decorator.

“My mom is my best friend and biggest supporter,” Michelle said.

Michelle’s dad, Ed, was her inspiration for offering adventurous flavors.

“Dad loved cajun and creole. He was famous for his New Year’s Day dinners,” she said. “He liked taking us to hole-in-the-wall restaurants. When we would go on vacation, he would go to the library to research places for us to try. I get my love of seeking out unique foods and flavors from my dad.”

We buy the freshest oils in small batches. We like to say that all of our oils and balsamics are born in the Mediterranean and bottled in Brown County.

Her father died in 2011, just one year before the store opened.

“He would have loved the store,” Michelle said. “I hate that he missed it.”

Before opening, Michelle put in countless hours of research, trying to find small batches of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Today, the store imports seasonal extra virgin olive oils from all over the world, from farms in Spain, Greece, Italy, Australia, and California.

“Olives are harvested at different seasons in different places,” Michelle said. “We buy the freshest oils in small batches. We like to say that all of our oils and balsamics are born in the Mediterranean and bottled in Brown County.”

Along with traditional extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, The Wild Olive also sells oils and balsamics in more than 30 different infused flavor varieties.

Michelle said oils and balsamics can be used to make marinades and vinaigrettes, make a reduction or “balsamic glaze,” and used when sautéing, frying, roasting, and grilling foods.

The most popular oils offered at The Wild Olive are the Tuscan Herb and Fresh Garlic Extra Virgin Olive oils and the 25-Star Aged Balsamic Vinegar. Michelle’s “go-tos” are the 25-Star Balsamic and the Fresh Garlic, Garlic Chili, Black Pepper, and Meyer Lemon oils.

“I am constantly looking for new flavors,” she said. “We have flavors that we keep year-round and flavors that we rotate seasonally.”

One way Michelle adds flavors to the store is by customer recommendations.

“We always keep a request sheet at the register so people can write what they would like us to carry,” Michelle said. “If we get enough requests of the same flavor, we will start offering it in the store.”

Customers are encouraged to taste any of the flavors and to ask questions.

“The staff is very good at talking with everyone. They are very good at helping people learn how to best use our products,” Michelle said. “Our products are for everyone, foodies, novices and chefs. I always try to tell people that a visit to our store is a culinary experience.”

Michelle recommends the four or six bottle sampler gift packs for newbies.

“It’s a great way to try several flavors and learn what you really like,” she said. “The bottles are smaller, but it helps you decide what flavors you like before committing to a larger bottle.”

In addition to her products, Michelle also stocks the store with a collection of complementary culinary products. “I think it’s important to support people locally, and it’s fun to work with the businesses around you,” Michelle said.

The store carries a full line of dipping blends from Salt Sisters out of Goshen, maple syrup made just up the road from the store, and a variety of products from Indiana company Smoking Goose and Michigan-based American Spoon. A friend from Rockville makes the balsamic jams and preserves, an employee’s mother embroiders the aprons and a friend from Missouri makes the wooden crates that hold the sampler gift packs.

“The Hobnob and the Bird’s Nest Café use our 25Star Balsamic,” Michelle said. “It is nice when I am able to collaborate with another local, small business.”

Michelle said one of her favorite partnerships is with the Jennings County High School culinary arts class. For the past four years, the high school students have developed the chocolate The Wild Olive hands out at the annual Brown County Humane Society Chocolate Walk. In 2019, the students’ creation of chocolate fudge cake pops using blood orange olive oil, tied for Best Chocolate.

“They come up with the recipes, they make it, they package it, label it, and deliver it to the store,” Michelle said. “It is just such a great partnership. I love hearing about their enthusiasm for the project.”

The Wild Olive is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Visit <www.thewildolive.com> for more.