Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 32
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

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Iris Interiors

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Weather Forecast

It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

FRESH AND FABULOUS: ‘We have a large variety, and no one else has this kind of a selection. Customers are guaranteed getting fresh new olive oil and vinegars all the time. Nothing is on the shelf more than a week.” Mercedes Wall, one of the owners of Carter & Cavero Old World Olive Oil Company, is in front of the special display of olive oil containers, which dispense sample tastes to customers.

Carter & Cavero Old World Olive Oil Company Offers Unique Array of High Quality Choices

Carter & Cavero Old World Olive Oil Company has opened to rave reviews!

It is definitely one of the hot spots in town today, and customers can’t seem to get enough of the high quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegars available at this very attractive Palmer Square store. This is the real deal!

Since its opening in June 2010, the shop has drawn customers from all over the area, including those who are knowledgeable about the products and those who are just discovering the tempting taste of very fresh extra virgin olive oil, whole fruit-fused olive oil, and high quality balsamic vinegar.

“This has been a wonderful year for us,” says Mercedes Wall, one of the owners. “We’ve grown in what we are offering, and we have lots of regular customers from Princeton and beyond. The people who come in are very interested and like to ask lots of questions. Many of the customers are aware of the different olive oils and vinegars, and are very discerning. They all love to be able to taste and sample the different varieties from our dispensing containers. Also, I think people here are open to trying new things.”

Traditional and Flavored

Indeed, one of the pleasures of visiting Carter & Cavero is dipping a bit of bread into a tiny cup of oil or vinegar. All are very tempting.

“The olive oil flavors are mild and subtle to fruity and more robust, and we have dark and light balsamic vinegar, aged 12 to 18 years, both traditional and flavored. They all come from the Mediterranean — Spain, Italy, Greece, and Tunisia, as well as Chile and California,” points out Ms. Wall, who was a teacher before she and her attorney husband, with a group of partners, opened Carter & Cavero. All of the partners have an appreciation and knowledge of the finest olive oil and vinegar, and one partner is an expert olive oil taster on the International Olive Oil Council, and a tasting panel chef.

The first Carter & Cavero store opened in Red Bank in 2007, and was such a success that the partners established another in Long Branch, to be followed by the 27 Palmer Square location last year. A Summit opening is currently in the planning stages.

Customers seem to like everything, reports Ms. Wall, with organic Picual extra virgin olive oil from Spain especially popular. Hojiblanca extra virgin, also from Spain, is strong and earthy, and extra virgin Arbequina from Greece is on the milder side.

Everything can be tasted, and there are many favorite flavors, including roasted garlic, truffle, blood orange, Persian lime, and Tuscan herb olive oil, among many others. Popular balsamic vinegars include tangerine, pomegranate, blueberry, fig, and oregano.

Ms. Wall and the staff are happy to advise customers about the many ways olive oil and balsamic vinegar can enhance recipes — in addition to their traditional role in salad dressings. “This is all part of a healthier diet for people. The Mediterranean diet is best for you,” observes Ms. Wall, who is an enthusiastic cook. “We love to give customers suggestions about cooking with olive oil. Also many people like to use olive oil on bread instead of butter. People are so receptive; every few weeks we try to come up with a new recipe.”

Tangier Taste

Among the popular Carter & Cavero recommendations are:

• Sautee vegetables, such as string beans, broccoli, and zucchini with roasted garlic olive oil

• Make garlic bread with it; slice the bread and drizzle garlic oil on it, toast the bread, and sprinkle with coarse salt

• Drizzle truffle olive oil on pasta and sprinkle with a hard cheese

• Add it to potatoes, eggs, and mushrooms

• Drizzle Persian lime olive oil over vegetables such as asparagus, corn, green peas, and zucchini

• Use it with tangerine balsamic vinegar to make a marinade for scallops, shrimp, and tuna, or rub it on chicken with garlic and oregano for a Mediterranean twist

• Mix blood orange olive oil with tangerine balsamic vinegar for a terrific salad dressing or marinade for roast chicken

• Use Tuscan olive oil on mashed or baked potatoes

• Add blueberry or strawberry balsamic vinegar to pancake batter or fruit

• Add pomegranate balsamic vinegar to any stuffing for a perfect touch

• Add red apple balsamic vinegar to apple pies for a tangier taste, or add to green salad with goat cheese and walnuts.

The possibilities and combinations are endless.

In addition to the oils and vinegars, Carter & Cavero offers a variety of olive oil-related or appropriate items, including for cooking, home, and health and beauty. “We have a very nice variety of pasta from Italy,” reports Ms. Wall. “I didn’t realize that the shape and texture of the pasta could make such a difference in taste.”

Himalayan Salt Blocks

“We also have olive oil tortas from Spain. They are very light in different flavors, and great for cheese. The Taralli are a wonderful salted Italian snack, made with olive oil, and we have a selection of sea salt. This is better for you because it is not refined. I especially love the Peruvian pink sea salt. It is crunchy, with jagged edges.

“We also offer Himalayan salt blocks. These are wonderful. You heat one on the stove for about 20 minutes, and then cook shrimp, vegetables, chicken, etc. right on the block. They cook very quickly, and the flavor is delicious.”

Hand-done ceramics from Spain are in wonderfully bright colors and designs, and there is also the popular clay-baked terra cotta Casuela cookware, always in demand.

Olive wood bowls — from dipping to salad size — are another specialty, and in addition there is a nice selection of olive oil skin care products, including soaps, moisturizers, lip balm, and more, starting at $4.50. Olive oil and vinegar are priced at $12.95 (eight ounces-plus) and $21.95 (16 ounces-plus).

Herbal and regular teas, with fragrance testers offered, are other popular choices. Midsummer’s Peach, Peppermint Herbal, Earl Grey Supreme, and Hot Cinnamon Sunset are just some of the many options available.

Gift baskets, already prepared or customized, are always excellent gifts, and can contain a full variety of products. Gift certificates are also available. And, anything from the store is a wonderful holiday or hostess gift. The olive oil and balsamic vinegars are offered in beautiful black custom-etched bottles (bottled at Carter & Cavero’s Red Bank facility). The bottles can be returned for a discount, adds Ms. Wall, who is delighted with the store’s success.

“We are so encouraged. It is everything we had hoped for and more. We had looked around and felt Princeton was a perfect match. We were right!”

Carter & Cavero is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday until 8:30, and Sunday noon to 5. (609) 356-0215. Website:

— Jean Stratton

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