Comptoir O Huiles: An Olive Oil Bar in Marseille
This venture is only one-year-old but the converted old bakery is today a warm and enticing meeting place for lovers of extra virgin.
On holiday in Marseille, the Parisian couple was curious by the sign “Comptoir O Huiles". They simply had to go in, have a look and maybe buy some oil from Provence. They hardly knew anything about olive oil but here in beautifully displayed rustic surroundings was a boutique with an extensive range of olive oils where the owner invited you to learn about the art of tasting olive oil: a place which served light authentic dishes from Provence all made with healthy extra virgin. They were captivated.
What better environment to learn about aromas and olive oil fruitiness?
Gaëlle Carougeau is the owner of Comptoir O Huiles situated in France’s second largest city. She runs her business with real professionalism. The young entrepreneur is an olive oil expert trained by AFIDOL, the French Interprofessional Association of Olive and also a member of the Afidol jury. This means that she is experienced in the different profile flavors of extra virgin olive oil; she knows the importance of the French term Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, ( the EU equivalent, the Appellation d'Origine Protégée)
Gaëlle teaches novices how to smell and taste extra virgin, how to recognize the different flavors. But not all her customers are novices. Some are knowledgeable; they already know about Provencal flavors; these clients are keen to discuss subtle flavors and how best to use them with different dishes.
How does this connoisseur choose the oils for her boutique?
Gaëlle says aroma, terroir, harvesting methods and the date of harvest significantly influence her choice. About 80% of her oils come from the region, the rest she buys from producers in Italy and Crete.
Gaëlle says she gets enormous satisfaction from seeing customers seated around her “table d’hote’ sharing, learning and discussing Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil, and food - all principles of the Mediterranean diet. She says’ there’s nothing more rewarding than sharing your passion.’
The couple opted for a pasta dish, a Provençal specialty 'Pate a la Poutargeus' followed by a 'fondant au chocolat' made with extra virgin olive oil AOP from the Baux de Provence.
A superb experience, they said.
“We were shy and nervous to sip and slurp the oils as we started the tasting but Gaëlle is an excellent hostess, with an infectious laugh, and a talent for putting her guests at ease. You couldn’t ask for a better teacher.”