I told him that the friend who lives in my garage apartment is dairy-free and although we don't often eat together occasionally I sauté vegetables in butter and then regret that I can't share. He carefully gave me a card explaining that no items in his store come from animal products--he has a large vegan trade--and the butter olive oil, while it tastes like butter, is dairy free. And aside from sautéing, you can use it almost any place you'd use real butter--over baked potatoes, in baking, over everything from popcorn to pasta, to dip bread in, and a bunch of other things. Use your imagination.
The oils fascinated me--truffle infused, mushroom, roasted almond, sesame, French walnut, chipotle, cilantro and roasted onion, green chili. Apparently a California garlic oil is his best-seller.
I'm not as big a fan of balsamic vinegars, but I suspect if I hung around there I would be. The bestseller is the 18-year-old one I bought but the dark also come in black currant, blueberry, cinnamon-pecan, and even chocolate. White balsamics have fruity flavors from pineapple and mango to coconut and peach. One of the premium vinegars is a pinot noir one.
An entire wall of salts intrigued me because I'd just bought chocolate sea salt in Hawaii--can you imagine that on a grilled steak? Like a subtle mole sauce. The store didn't have that but did have a dark red Hawaiian sea salt. Almost all of the salts were from the sea--black truffle, chipotle, wild porcini, vanilla bean and others. And there was a bread-dipping seasoning--my kids brought some of that back from France nine years ago and we loved it.
The pure cane sugars also come in a variety of flavors. I liked the idea of espresso, lime, and lemon. Not so sure I want to try habanero.
The Virgin Olive Oiler offers shipping anywhere in the continental United States, and their website has recipes. Check it out at http://www.shop.thevirginoliveoiler.com/Sugars_c5.htm. I haven't had such a fascinating shopping trip in a long time, and now I'm ready to experiment in cooking.