WESTFIELD, NJ—Enter the new Patricia & Paul Artisans of Fine Oils and Balsamics shop in Westfield and you’ll likely be greeted by Patricia Hanigan herself, one half of the husband-and-wife team who reside in nearby Mountainside.
“I am thrilled to be here and share our bounty with our new clients and friends,” she told TAP.
Armed with a degree in nutrition from Saint Elizabeth’s College in Convent Station, NJ, and a Master’s Degree from New York University, Patricia honed her skills working for Aramark, an international corporation and major food distribution firm that continues to provide fine foods to executive dining rooms, hospitals and other venues throughout the world. From there, she joined the team at Fed Ex, where she became managing director for the entire the North East Corridor.
“Each day was a learning experience,” said Hanigan. “I knew I was becoming an expert in olive oil and balsamics. I truly feel blessed that I am exactly where I want to be in my life.”
“Have you been to an olive oil tasting before?” she asks. “Grab one of our little cups and have some fun,” she trills as another customer walks into the shop.
Fortunate to select what she likes to do best, Patricia has filled tables, benches, shelves and corners with lovely items. In addition to a molten chocolate kit, which comes with ramekins in which to bake and serve individual portions of the rich dessert ($7.50), there are items like jars of fig jam ($6) and a selection of cheese knives sold individually ($3.50 each) or in a block of wood (four for $12).
As you enter, you’ll see shelves and walls packed with fusti—huge stainless steel storage vats filled with aged balsamic vinegars and extra-virgin olive oils. To help in the selection process, each shiny vat contains a specific description of its ingredients. You’ll learn about the country of origin, the “crush” date (the date they actually crushed the olives) and the intensity of the product.
For example, an infused oil’s description reads, “Herbs de Provence. Recommendation: “Outstanding when drizzled over grilled chicken, rubbed on turkey before roasting or for bread dipped in oil.”
Not only are you welcome to sample every product at the tasting bar, huge jars of bread are available for dipping.
Interested in aged fig balsamic? The description reads: “The Aged Fig Balsamic is prepared with natural ingredients and arrives from Modena, Italy. One of the most popular balsamics, the Aged Fig Balsamic is outstanding as a marinade or as a salad dressing.”
Nearby, a natural aged raspberry balsamic vinegar’s notation reads: “This vinegar oozes with the natural flavor of fresh raspberries. Both sweet and tart, it’s perfect tossed with mixed salad greens and a little feta cheese. It’s also enjoyed paired with one of our flavored oils, or as a marinade or glaze for chicken or pork.”
Bottles are priced from $11.95 each. Return with the empty bottle and receive a dollar off of your next purchase. Should you fancy owning your very own fusti, there’s a small version priced at $79.95.
Lynne Bloomfield of Plainfield was mesmerized by all of the products and ingredients and was especially drawn to the fig balsamic and raspberry aged balsamic, which are both favorites with shoppers.
In addition to balsamics and olive oils, Patricia & Paul offers an extensive selection of beautiful giftware, from stunning Jute gift bags to cruets to a selection of spices from The Spice Lab in flavors of Kentucky Bourbon, Hawaiian Bamboo, Bamboo Salt and Lavender and Rosemary. There are also gourmet crackers, pour spouts for bottles in all sizes, aprons, baskets and towels, among other items.
Patricia & Paul Artisans of Fine Oils and Balsamics, 20 Elm Street, Westfield. Hours: Closed Monday. Tuesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 908-232-3866.