100% organic, 100% sustainable, and 100% fun to mix your own blend!
Contributed by Jill Rosen of Hurray Brands
My mother always told me to get my elbows off the dinner table and not to play with my food. Sorry mom—but Stephen Clemente, who just opened two new specialty stores featuring oils, vinegars, and honey, respectfully disagrees. His two shops at Peddler’s Village, Sticky Situations and Extra Virgin, are linked not only physically—they are located side by side, with a welcoming arch in between—but also in terms of family legacy.
It was Stephen’s Italian “Nonni” who passed down the belief that every recipe should have three core components: fat (oil), sweetener (honey), and acid (vinegar). It is in her honor he invites you to “belly up to the mixing bar” to create your very own recipes for dressings, marinades and spreads using organic, sustainable, and local raw ingredients. “Clean diets”—avoiding pesticides, additives, and preservatives—are becoming the trend, and the products in Stephen’s stores definitely meet that criteria.
“My Nonni was living the Mediterranean diet before such a name ever existed,” said Stephen. “And she lived to be 103 years old.”
Stephen opened his first store in Mystic, Connecticut, in 2011. “We wanted to show our customers the flavors that you’d find in a true Italian household: real flavors, simple flavors, but flavors with tremendous depth,” he said. Sticky Situations and Extra Virgin opened at Peddler’s Village on March 31, 2019.
Together, Sticky Situations and Extra Virgin offer more than 70 products ranging from olive oils to avocado oils, apple cider vinegar to champagne vinegar, raw local honey to monoculture honey, and a plethora of pasta and sauce options, and they make 90% of them. Sampling is a vital part of the store experience. “It’s a playground for foodies,” Stephen said.
I asked Stephen what the buzz was all about regarding his honey. After all, honey is honey, right? Stephen explained that they work with 52 organic farms across the country, which his Italian honey bees help to pollinate. The farms range from lemon groves to garlic fields, and everything in between—and, thanks to the bees, the flavor of the crop is naturally infused in the honey!
“By using our colonies of Italian honey bees, which are natural pollinators, we’re able to help increase crop yield and provide a more stable environment for our partner farms to maintain their organic status,” Stephen said. “Moreover, our bees are focused on only one crop at a time, which allows for a deeper and richer concentration of honey and its all-natural flavor.”
So there I was: the mad food scientist blending lemon honey with garlic honey, homemade fermented vinegar, and the cleanest flavored olive oil that I have ever tasted to create my very own brand of dressing.
This is a fabulous time of year to visit Stephen and his team at Sticky Situations and Extra Virgin. Whether you keep your specially created blend for yourself or gift it to a fellow foodie, you’ll be substantially rewarded for playing with your food!