In recent weeks a jovial string of tricolore bunting has appeared in the middle of Dobbin Street. This is not the world’s smallest street party but instead marks the site of The Tasting Room, a new store specializing in imported goodies such as olive oils, pasta and antipasti, all from Italy’s southern region of Puglia.
The Tasting Room owners Matthew Millner and his wife (who is from Puglia), have actually been importing and distributing these types of goods for the past three years, but it is only recently that they decided to open up a retail outlet.
The first thing you notice on entering the store is a huge bank of Le Ferre extra virgin olive oils. The vast array of bottles contain oil ranging in strength from Carolea (delicate) through to Coratina (very intense), and 16 flavors such as mint, basil, garlic & capers, and white truffle.
True to name, The Tasting Room has plenty of samples on offer. When I visit there are plates of cheese and fresh tomatoes, and a whole container of different antipasti (olives, stuffed cherry peppers etc) all ready to be tasted. Dishes of fresh bread invite you to try any of the oils and balsamic vinegars (which are actually from Modena, the only product not from Puglia).
The Tasting Room have exclusive distribution rights of Le Ferre oils in the US and, because they do the importing themselves, they are able to keep their in-store prices low. All their 250ml flavored olive oils are $11.99 but Matt told me that he’s seen them on sale for as much as $20 in other outlets that source the product through him. (I took advantage of this and snaffled a bottle of truffle oil for myself, which I took home and decanted over a very nice dinner of ramps and poached eggs…HIGHLY recommended).
There is also a wide selection of pasta, jars of olives and preserved veg, and sweet and savory Taralli: a ring-shaped bread stick which would go particularly well with a sunset-rooftop aperitif. In fact, most of the food in stock would go extremely well in that kind of setting so, the next time you’re planning a sunset celebration, be sure to pop by The Tasting Room first to stock up on Italian treats!
The Tasting Room
108 Dobbin Street (between Norman and Meserole)
Open Tues-Sat 10-6pm