Local foodies and home chefs alike know where to get an upscale tasting experience: La Terra Natural Oils. Located on Bull Street, just up from Forsyth Park, La Terra is the place to go for quality extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
Linda Fuller, a former medical massage therapist and holistic health coach, and Joe Clearo, a successful partner of a thriving tire business in upstate New York, opened the shop two years ago.
“We opened this on a whim,” Fuller said, “and it’s just been a blast. People are happy. There’s a lot of foodies in this city—a lot.”
La Terra offers more than the basic olive oils found at your local grocery store. In addition to artisan olive oil soaps, tapenades, jams and seasonings, shoppers can peruse 19 varieties of infused extra virgin olive oils.
“The infusions come from the arbequina, which is a pure extra virgin [oil],” Fuller explained. “Arbequina is a type of olive that makes an oil that, when you blend it with something, it takes on that taste. It’s perfect for infusions.”
The olive oil infusions range from the familiar—basil, garlic, oregano and rosemary—to the delightfully surprising. Citrus habañero, vanilla, Thai chili and blood orange infusions add just the right zing of flavor to take ordinary meals to the next level.
“The Tuscan Herb blend of herbs is probably one of our most popular,” Fuller said. “What people are usually surprised at is how neat it is to take your infused olive oils and pair them with a balsamic to get an incredible taste.”
With 24 different balsamic vinegars to choose from, the pairing options are endless. Combining the citrus lime olive oil with the Rosato—a balsamic vinegar produced from rosé wine—creates a light, summery dressing for salads and fruits. For a rich, decadent blend, pair the pomegranate balsamic vinegar with the blood orange olive oil.
“The beauty of these oils is you’re not looking at powdered flavorings,” Fuller said. “You have true infusions of fruits or vegetables or spices. It is a pure extra virgin olive oil that is infused with the taste.”
La Terra may seem like the go-to place for experienced gourmet cooks, but the store serves plenty of people just starting to get adventurous in their kitchens. Whatever you put on your menu, Fuller is ready with recommendations on how to make it an unforgettable meal.
“We have people that come in like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to cook this [dish]!’” she said. “And if it’s something with, say, pork—pork is fantastic with the lime olive oil and the dark raspberry. Those two together is incredible when you’re doing a pork tenderloin. Seafood—scallops, shrimp, white fish—with the citrus habañero and the white coconut balsamic is amazing.”
La Terra Natural Oils is located at 1520 Bull Street. Store hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Visit laterranaturaloils.com or call (912)-417-2638 for more information.