6 pantry must haves!

If I asked you to list off the staples of your cooking pantry, I’d be willing to bet that the first items on your list would be salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  Most of us consume these items on a daily basis but how much thought do we give to their quality and taste? All olive oil, balsamic, and even salt are not the same and can mean all the difference in your food.  Here are six pantry items that can make that difference.  Your taste buds can thank me later.

Piranske Slovenian Sea Salt

As the name suggests, sea salt is produced from the evaporation of ocean water or from saltwater lakes. Each water source leaves behind trace elements and minerals in the salt.   Unlike table salt, whose processing strips the salt of all natural minerals and contains additives, there is little processing involved in sea salt.  The “all natural” quality, the coarse, crunchy texture, and the strong flavor make this a must in gourmet kitchens.


Piranske Soline Slovenian Sea Salt is considered some of the best sea salt in the world. Deemed a national treasure, the salts sold at Piranske Soline are gathered from the park’s salt pans using techniques dating from the 14th century. The salts have a flavor and texture that have made them a prized ingredient among European epicures and chefs.

Gourmet “& salt” Gift Stack

These salts are incredible.  With 6 mini jars of artisan salts, including “Truffle & Salt”, “Fennel & Salt”, “Saffron & Salt”, “Fiori & Salt”, “Porcini & Salt”, and “Herb & Salt”, these will rock your food world.  Instead of reaching for your regular salt, try one of these to enhance the flavors of a special dish or make an ordinary meal extraordinary. My breakfast experience has been transformed by adding truffle & salt to my eggs.


A Good Every Day Olive Oil

A quality olive oil doesn’t only taste better, it is better for your health. Everyone has different tastes in olive oil and with our extensive collection of some of the best Italian and Greek olive oils, Its pretty safe to say that everyone can find their favorite every day and dipping olive oils at the shop.  To learn more about olive oil and how to choose one, read our interview with Glenn Greenwood. our Ritrovo gourmet guru.


Having a good everyday olive oil to cook with is essential.  I tend to go for the more mild and lesser priced olive oils to cook with.  My favorite is our very own Shop Agora Greek olive oil.  It comes in quantities of two liters and is versatile for anything.

A Good Finishing Olive Oil

I eat so much bread because I use it as a vehicle for olive oil.  A good and flavorful olive oil can make a boring salad taste like heaven.  Again, with so many different flavors, I suggest you come in and try some for yourself.  I can’t choose which olive oils are my favorite, so I like to switch them up a bit depending on what I’m paring it with. In my pantry right now, I have the incredibly bright and grassy Raro (perfect for cooking), the spicy Tenuta Cocevola (love it on caprese salads), and the warm and buttery Trampetti (for bread dipping).


    Maletti Balsamic Vinegar

    Once you taste Maletti Balsamic vinegar, you will never think of balsamic in the same way again.  This Italian balsamic is aged 6 years in oak barrels and a staple in many Italian kitchens.  It comes out like syrup and is intense, deep, and aromatic in flavor with a clean finish.  Maletti is perfect to top off salads and to drizzle on anything from pizza and pasta to chocolate cake (BTW, have you tried our fallen chocolate lava cake?) and ice cream.  I made a strawberry upside down cake yesterday and on a whim topped it with some Maletti.  That cake is long gone.


    All Purpose Balsamic

    While Maletti is perfect for drizzling and finishing, you definitely want a lighter and less intense all purpose balsamic in your pantry.  As the two-year aged version of the Maletti Balsamic, The Shop Agora brand balsamic vinegar is just right for this and less expensive than the Maletti.  I usually toss my salads using the lighter balsamic and then drizzle the Maletti on top.

    So stock these items in your pantry, and let me know if you ever regret it.  I look forward to not hearing from you.

    Article contributed by Jana Shih