“Westport is such a foodie place right now,” Alina Lawrence said. People love to try and experience new foods in town, which is why, she said, Westport was the perfect choice for her second store.
The new location, on Railroad Place across from the train station, offers a wide variety of extra virgin olive oils, flavored oils and balsamic vinegars. She offers one olive oil that has won 43 awards this year alone and another that was recently named one of the Top 10 olive oils in the world.
At the grand opening event Thursday night, guests were offered tastings of the wide variety of oils and vinegars that Lawrence stocks. The oils, she said, come from all over the world and the vinegars mainly come from Modena in Italy.
In 2013, Lawrence earned her training and certification in olive oil sensory analysis from the National Organization of Olive Oil Tasters in Italy. She can determine whether an olive oil is extra virgin, has defaults or is even rancid by smelling and tasting the oil.
“Tasting olive oil is so important,” Lawrence said, adding that 99 percent of the oils on supermarket shelves are not extra virgin or are rancid. In her store in Darien, she has a “wall of shame” showcasing the olive oils that are rancid or not extra virgin.
Lawrence got her love of olive oil growing up in Romania. When she moved to the United State, she would smuggle the oil back from her home country with her in plastic soda bottles. “I’ve always loved it!”
State lawmakers such as Sen. Toni Boucher and Rep. Gail Lavielle attended the grand opening and ribbon cutting. Both said they were excited to try the many oils and vinegars in the store.
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe, who was there to cut the ribbon for the grand opening, said that the store reminded him of his recent trip to Italy.
Curious customers who wandered into the store were treated to a wealth of knowledge from Lawrence and her husband, Dee.
The store's customers are offered tests of all the oils and vinegars and suggestions of what they can be used for, including strawberry, espresso and fig flavored balsamic vinegars.
The store is located at 24 Railroad Place in Westport, across the street from the train station. For opening times, visit its website.