When Harmony resident Sherry Cepek traveled to Pinehurst, NC for a niece’s wedding, she never dreamed she’d return from the vacation destination with a new career.
While down South, Cepek paid a visit to Green Gate Olive Oils, a charming shop selling different varieties of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. As a former waitress who spent plenty of time around chefs and their kitchens, Cepek said she knew a good bit about what went into preparing good food. She began to think about opening her own shop in the Cranberry area.
“I thought, 'I can do this,' ” she said.
With her husband's support, she got in touch with Veronica Foods, a California-based olive oil company that has been in business since 1924. The company also assists in opening stores that exclusively carry Veronica Foods olive oil.
Cepek flew out to the company headquarters to meet with Veronica Bradley, daughter of company founder Salvatore Esposito. Together, they talked oil.
“She’s just an amazing woman,” Cepek said. “She’s done so much research in oil.”
Cepek also began to study the health benefits of oil and balsamic vinegar, which include antioxidants that have the potential to protect against heart disease and cancer, and enzymes that improve digestion.
To keep all the benefits straight, Cepek keeps a handy cheat sheet of health-related information about balsamic vinegar and olive oil that customers can read at her store, The Enchanted Olive.
Located on Route 19 across from the Northgate Plaza in Harmony, The Enchanted Olive has been open for a little more than two months.
Entering the little shop is like being transported to an elegant pastoral scene. Inside, the walls are painted a soft field green. A serene mural of an olive farm dominates the store’s checkout area, while a giant papier-mache tree leans over the register. Artist Amanda Lee, a friend of Cepek, made both pieces of art.
Equally decorative are the 48 silver canisters by Sansone Fusti that line the center of the store. Each holds a different variety of olive oil or balsamic vinegar.
“The purpose is to keep the olive oil dark [and] to keep it fresh,” Cepek explained.
A quick trip around the room offers an array of oils and vinegars that range from the standard extra virgin olive oil to more exotic blood orange and white truffle flavors.
“I had three different chefs come in looking for that,” Cepek said of the white truffle oil.
Customers are invited to taste each of the flavors in one of the plastic tasting cups found around the room. Cepek also offers a pairing of the day. One of the more unusual concepts: ice cream covered with one of the fruit-flavored oils.
For adventurous foodies, The Enchanted Olive offers a plethora of olive oil and balsamic vinegar-based recipes, including asiago and white truffle mashed potatoes and lemon olive oil pound cake with lemon glaze, online.
The store also is available for tasting parties. For more information, visit the Enchanted Olive website.