Meet Harold Kaytes of Olive Lucy
Great name! Get it? Olive Lucy?! And I do, I LOVE Olive Lucy.This is the newest offering in the heart of the Valley Court Yard on Huntingdon Pike in Huntingdon Valley. Handsomely re-done, Olive Lucy houses a variety of 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Aged Balsamic Vinegars. You can see shiny stainless steel dispensers (FUSTIS) lined up, all labeled, indicating “crush” date, breakdown and a few other important tidbits for understanding just what’s inside the fusti. Whether it’s one of the Extra Virgin Olive Oils you’re tasting or one of the deliciously aged Balsamic Vinegars you’re sampling, it’s bound to be special AND fun.
Recently I visited with the owner of this tasty emporium, local guy, Harold Kaytes. I say “local guy” because many of you may know Harold as the former owner of Castle Wallpaper in Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County. Those in the know, remember that Castle was a real institution for anyone seeking just the right wallpaper in the greater Philadelphia area and beyond. We might say that Olive Lucy is to virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar what Castle Wallpaper was to wall coverings!! (I wonder if Harold thought
If this weren’t enough, Harold was raised in Strawberry Mansion and Northeast Philadelphia, went to Northeast High and married a local girl, Sharon Borowsky, who only lived 6 blocks away. (This is a REAL Philadelphia story!!) Unbeknownst to them, they both frequented the Tyson Grill on Friday nights with the rest of the gang… but where they really came together, is for me, the icing on the cake.
If you’re from Philadelphia, and from a certain era, you know about the boardwalk in Atlantic City and Chelsea.(P.S. It’s not something I’m too familiar with, but I know of it!) Well, as the Kaytes’ story goes, Harold was a busboy/waiter at the Mayflower Hotel in Atlantic City. He spent his summers down at the shore including visits to Chelsea and the boardwalk, and met Sharon. Their romance on the boardwalk turned into love and once again, Atlantic City gave a real Philly twist to a real Philly love story. (This isn’t something that happened in my neck of the woods in Wilmington, Delaware!)
Once I recovered from reminiscing about the shore, Chelsea, and Harold’s REAL Philadelphia story, I brought us to the present and Olive Lucy. I wanted to find out how one gets from wallpaper treatments to olive oils and vinegars. Harold recounted, “I’m a cook by nature. Self taught. As a teenager, my sister and I watched Chef Graham Kerr on the television, saw him prepare the meal of the evening and together, my sister and I would make the very same meal for ourselves immediately after! I loved cooking then and still do. And there is nothing better than cooking with good health and quality in mind. This is how I evolved and “found” 100% extra virgin olive oil.”
I asked Harold to explain a little more about olive oil and its variations. “There are what is called ‘5 presses’ when making olive oils. The first press produces 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This is what you see in Olive Lucy. The second and third press produces Virgin Olive Oil, often found on supermarket shelves, etc. The olive oil produced in the fourth press is used in hand lotion and soap. And the fifth press produces, lampone, lamp oil.”
This 100% Virgin Olive Oil is produced all over the world. (Not so Balsamic Vinegar that is ONLY produced in Modena, Italy.) These oils all carry a “crush date” or “press date.” This would reflect how fresh it is. When you buy these oils in a market, this date is not reflected, therefore you don’t know how fresh the oil. He reminded me that “100% Extra Virgin” does not necessarily reflect freshness or quality.
So, how can you tell if the oil is fresh? “Freshness and its characteristics is determined by the age of the olives at their time of picking. And you can tell what’s going on by its aroma, the oil’s distinct taste and its finish. (How it tastes at the end of your taste or swallow.) The younger the olive is picked, the more intense the flavor.”
For me, even as a cook, talking with Harold was really enlightening. I never think to bake with olive oil, but he was quick to correct me and say that indeed you can not only saute and fry, but you can also bake with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In fact, if using one of Olive Lucy’s naturally infused oils when sauteing, you should probably cut back on some of the seasonings you might ordinarily use.
I didn’t want to miss the fact that Harold carries a wide selection of Balsamic Vinegars, again infused with natural flavors and nothing artificial. They serve as a wonderful compliment to the delicious oils, or can be enjoyed alone on salads, for dipping, desserts or cooking. Harold recommends experimenting and he, as a more experienced “chef,” can make some recommendations.
Clearly, when it comes to Harold’s olive oils and balsamic vinegars, these are not your grandmother’s oils and vinegars. These are healthful and delicious, and make whatever you’re preparing even better.
There’s a lot of other neat stuff at Olive Lucy. Pastas, tapenades, olives, honey, and great gift ideas for anyone, young or old. And P.S. the oils are kosher, with certification. You can ask to see the documentation. AND you can taste the oil or vinegar you might be interested in BEFORE you take it home. GO for a tasting, get the grand tour highlighting the pros and cons, and with Harold’s assistance or one of the other experts at Olive Lucy, you can determine how you might use the oil or vinegar. It really is a fun experience that could translate into something very healthy for your table. Just ask Harold Kaytes.
After hours, there are few, Harold devotes his time to family. He’s still often the appointed “chef” at home and plays tennis when time (and weather) allows. But if you ask me, he’s got his eye on training another up and coming “chef,” his grandson, Owen. Sure, he may be only seven months old, but if you ask Harold, he’d probably tell you you’re never too young or too old to indulge a dream. And aside from his Philadelphia sweetheart of fifty years, Sharon, Harold only has eyes for Owen.
Olive Lucy is a great place to visit. It’s even a better place to shop for oils and vinegars that could make a difference in the quality of your life. And it’s not just cosmetics! It was fun meeting Harold Kaytes and hearing his Philadelphia story. I really do enjoy hearing those stories. There is something unique to them… just as there is something unique to Olive Lucy.
2531 Huntingdon Pike
Huntingdon Valley, PA
Copyright (c) 2008 The Uptight Suburbanite. All rights reserved.