Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars was the first premium olive oil tasting bar in Austin. The Con’ Olio experience — influenced by Europe’s unique food culture, street markets and small-town cafés — is available at three Austin locations: 215 Lavaca St. in the Second Street District, at the Arboretum & in Bee Cave at the Shops at the Galleria. All three locations of this family-owned oil boutique offer the try-before-you-buy concept, serving complementary tastes of the freshest Extra Virgin Olive Oils (EVOO) & Aged Traditional Balsamic Vinegars in town. As taste testers tap into the liquid gold of Con’ Olio’s olive oils and vinegars, poured from one stainless steel Fusti storage container to another, the knowledgeable staff provides expert insight on how to identify high-grade oils and distinguish their particular flavors and aromas. Unlike many oil tasting bars that provide bread for dipping, Con’ Olio encourages customers to sip from tasting cups, which helps preserve the oils’ integrity and flavor. To ensure
authenticity, bottles are filled directly from the tasting Fustis, each of which specifies the harvest date and chemical-testing results along with the organoleptic tasting profiles.
Owner Tabatha Conarko melded her passion for
high quality extra virgin olive oil with her desire to source international gourmet goods to open Austin’s first premium olive oil tasting bar in 2009. As the owner of Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars, Conarko focuses on offering fresh products, working with authentic producers, and educating guests and the local community.
“To receive the best taste and full gamut of health benefits, EVOO should be as fresh as possible. That’s why we focus on proving the quality of our products through tasting and education,” says Conarko, who was recently featured in the Austin Business Journal and Austin Monthly Magazine.
Conarko, who is certified as an expert olive oil sensory evaluator by the Organizzazione Nazionale Assaggiatori Olio di Oliva, believes it is just as important to detect rancid and defective olive oil as it is to know what is fresh. To study for the rigorous exam—similar to the test to become a sommelier—Conarko tasted hundreds of samples of olive oil. She also received her Olive Sensory certification from the US Davis Olive Center. In addition to her love of learning, Conarko continues to find time to regularly travel to Europe, where she cultivates relations with producers who have a respect for tradition yet utilize the best technology to ensure high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
As much as Conarko devotes her efforts to providing only the freshest products, she thrives on sharing stories about her producers, and teaching as many people as she can about real olive oil, how to taste it, and its myriad health benefits.
Tabatha and her late husband Jeff Conarko, 2009