Gushing oil

Mercedes Burkavage owns the Big Horn Olive Oil Company.

Mercedes Burkavage owns the Big Horn Olive Oil Company.

Photo By allison young

Big Horn Olive Oil Company is open 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with extended hours beginning March 1.

Oh, olive oil, I almost thought we were through. But then something happened. I fell in love with you all over again. Oh, olive oil, you are the workhorse of the kitchen, the life-blood of food. Oh, olive oil, be still my beating heart, you grease my soul and now I am anew.


Food, science and the culinary arts are intersecting more than ever in this new millennium, and that has caused all those who live for flavor and taste to go where no palate has gone before. The Big Horn Olive Oil Company at Mayberry Landing is truly a new galaxy of flavors with no boundaries. Borrowing from the spice cabinets of the world, with 26 olive oils and 29 balsamic vinegars, your imagination will be challenged, intrigued and delighted with these fused and infused oils and vinegars.

Owner Mercedes Burkavage has created a palace of flavors, and everyone who walks through the door will have a regal experience in taste. The pleasure of taste is why we eat, dine and celebrate the joy of food and the culture that surrounds it. She will take you on a tour of limitless combinations. The flavorful sensations of her oils and vinegars can actually take away your breath, cause you to pause, and become momentarily lost in infinite pleasures of taste.

Most of her product is in bulk form with stainless steel, pot-belly urns up one side of the store and down the other, not pre-bottled. Big Horn exclusively distributes for Veronica Foods Company of Oakland, Calif. Originally founded in New York City in 1924 by Italian immigrant Salvatore Esposito, it’s Delizia olive oil brand was transferred from Naples, Italy, and registered in the United States in the same year. Veronica Foods imports more than a million gallons of extra virgin olive oil from all over the world every year.

You can taste everything in the shop. The oils—many extra virgin—come from Chile, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, California, Cypress, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Syria and Tunisia. The flavors they yield are the likes of blood orange, mushroom and sage, cilantro-roasted onion, and Herbs de Provence. These are bulk oils and vinegars, so you can buy them in 60 ml for $5.75, 200 ml $11.95, 375 ml $16.95, and 750 ml for $29.95. There are also gourmet oils like almond, pumpkin, black and white truffle, roasted walnut, and the one that brought tears to my eyes, toasted sesame seed. The gourmet oils run from $14.95 to $24.95.

The balsamic is from Modena, Italy, and the infused flavors like pear-cinnamon, espresso, coconut, lavender, mint, jalapeño, pomegranate, and, yes, chocolate, will mesmerize your mouth. This place is a treasurer-trove of discovery—candies, salts, some cheeses, spices—a place for all the senses.

Right now is such an exciting time in food. My feeling is that we’ve talked too much about looking back for flavor—looking back to the way my grandmother cooked for me and taught me to cook. Places like Big Horn are about creativity, starting with openness of mind and curiosity of spirit. Today, the best of professional cooking from San Francisco to New York and Paris to Singapore is all about possibility–questioning everything while still respecting tradition. And this little oil house is all about possibilities and will deliver a flavor cornucopia that until now was just in the imagination of foodies in these parts.