For some time now my wife has purchased olive oil from Grovestone in Champaign, IL. Recently we took advantage of an opportunity to attend a cooking class and wine tasting there with a group of wonderful friends.
The event was led by Owner, Loui Liagridonis, who was an excellent and enthusiastic host. He educated us on the history and use of olive oil as well as balsamic vinegar. His own family has olive groves located in the Northeast side of the Peloponnese in Greece. Their olive oil is extracted under cold temperature pressing, from the varieties of Manaki and Koroneiki olives.
Grovestone imports olive oil from production in Greece to Champaign, where they are then able to add infusions to provide us with the many flavored options to further enhance their various uses.
Grovestone does not only have olive oil, but also balsamic vinegar infused with a wide variety of flavors. They also have a multitude of other gourmet items such as their own brand of herbs & spices, sauces, mustards, spreads, jams, olives, etc.
The cooking part of the class was led by Chef Steph (Mayotte), who led us through her preparation of the evenings tastings, and also threw in several food preparation techniques.
The menu and recipes presented included:
- Country Style Rib Bites With Mustard Barbecue Sauce
- Smokey Baked Ribs With Espresso Barbecue
- Creamy Bacon Potato Salad
- Zesty Cranberry Apple Slaw
- Peach Cobbler
Wine was available by the glass, but there were also different wines served with the menu items.
Throughout the evening the participants were allowed to sample any of the various balsamic vinegars on the shelves, and our host even added some vanilla ice cream at the end and suggested trying these flavored vinegars on the ice cream. I tried strawberry and raspberry, and they were amazing.
Everyone in attendance seemed to have a great time. I know my group of friends did, and we certainly will be back for future events. Thank you Loui, Chef Steph, and Kostas (our server) for a wonderful and memorable event.