… Olives Et Al, Sturminster Newton …
The Olives Et Al shop in Sturminster Newton is like a refuge for me. It’s the place I go to, not only for the great products but to soak up the atmosphere. I linger, just to bask in the whole wonderfulness created by the friendly people and the delicious food.
The Olives Et Al headquarters is to be found just on the outskirts of the town (please see map and info, here). There is lots of parking and they are open from Monday to Saturday, 9am – 5:30pm.
The shop is just one part of a rapidly expanding, exciting business and, as locals, we are able to take full advantage of sampling the delights, almost as soon as they are created. Seemingly, the shop sprang up as a bit of a happy accident due to people arriving at the factory doors and asking, very sweetly, if they could try bits and pieces and possibly buy some while they were there. After mentioning this fact recently to my Mum and Dad, they looked a little sheepish and admitted that they had been guilty of doing just that!
The shelves are lined with jars, boxes and packages, all with engaging labels and wrapping, making the deli my first stop when finding gifts for those who love their food. While under the guise of choosing presents to go in a Christmas, birthday or house-warming gift hamper, you can secretly treat yourself to trying the huge variety of imaginative oils, nuts, bread and other tasty snacks.
The main hub of activity is around the ‘olive station’. Bowls and bowls heaped with glistening olives are ready to be tried. There is a very Mediterranean attitude towards shopping in this deli, as tasting and trying are positively encouraged. How else can you decide whether you will love the olives with stuffed tomato more than the feta-filled variety? Complete strangers can be overheard comparing notes and views over the different flavours and bonding over the slightly naughty feeling you get when you try ‘just one more’ before buying the biggest pot on offer!
Everyone seems to have their own special favourite, which is put into the basket automatically, while actually on a mission to find something else. Simon, the manager, is partial to the Putney Sauce (incredibly delicious with soft cheese), Mr D-F loves the Tapenade Provencal, while I cannot get enough of the Raspberry and Mint dressing, which enhances almost everything, including salads and fish dishes.
I was completely in awe of these beautifully coloured, massive meringues, all stacked up and looking tempting. The next time that I am in need of a pudding with wow-factor, I’ll definitely be dropping in to pick up one of these beauties!
To make matters even more exciting… Olives Et Al are hosting their annual Great Big Huge Dorset Feast on 22nd November. Taking place from 10am – 4pm, they promise a huge tent, full of local food and drink producers, where tasting is a necessity. I’ll be taking my Christmas list and my camera and will no doubt, see you there!