When it came time for Dalia Oreskovic to choose a career, it was a no-brainer. Her father had been a Chartered Accountant and she followed in his footsteps, spending three decades as a bookkeeper, 25 of those in South Delta.
But when Dalia's father passed away two years ago, she began to reevaluate her life and choices. Although she'd been a passionate and dedicated bookkeeper, she wondered if there might be a life beyond ledgers and journals.
As it happens, one her clients was Andrea O'Leary, who started Coastal Olive Oils in Sunny Tsawwassen in 2013, turning the store into the go-to location for premium healthy olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Andrea was looking to move on to other things and needed somebody to take over, so in May of 2017 Dalia became the new owner of Coastal Olive Oils.
"She built it from nothing and she did a wonderful job and she wanted someone with passion that could carry the legacy on," says Dalia.
As a devoted practitioner of hot yoga and a health enthusiast, she was attracted to the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil. As a woman of Egyptian heritage, Dalia says she grew up using a lot of olive oil but did not know the science behind it. To learn about her new business, she took an extensive course in Oakland, California.
It was there that she learned the name "extra virgin"comes from the practice of picking olives when they're ripe (rather than allowing them to fall to the ground naturally) and then cold-pressing the oils for the maximum amounts of monosaturated fatty acids, polyphenols (micronutrients) and antioxidants.
"And then there's the taste. God gave you the gift of taste," says Dalia."People taste the product and they immediately have a reaction to it. Whether they really like the product or the flavour or they want to try something different."
Much like the craft beer market, olive oil choice has exploded in recent years. Dalia has 42 different kinds of olive oils and balsamic vinegars from which to choose. Lucky for her customers, she has a tasting room which allows people to "try before you buy."
"People are blown away by the amount of variety. And this is actually a third of whatever I could order," she says, laughing.
But don't be too intimidated by the choice. Dalia has a pairing chart which tells customers what foods go best with the olive oils and vinegars. And if that's not enough, she's always more than happy to talk about her favourite subject.
"I ask them what they like in their palette. Are they spicy, savory or sweet in their salad or cooking? And they tend to tell me which direction to go and we can find the right balance so they walk out very happy with their choices."
Although extra virgin olive oil is a premium product with a premium price, it comes with proven health benefits and is the best source of vegan fatty acids. Dalia says some of her customers were actually referred to her by doctors looking to lower their patients' cholesterol.
"You can put it on Hummus, Quinoa, even rice. It enhances the flavour of any bland type of food."
The most exciting part, says Dalia, is being able to mix the olive oil flavours with the balsamic vinegars to get a limitless combination of different flavours. For instance, combining Persian Lime with Honey Ginger can go on your sushi, stir fry or lettuce wrap, without the sodium overload of soy sauce.
If you're interested in tasting for yourself come by Coastal Olive Oils, located inside Ambiente Gifts Decor and Design next to the Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall. Group tasting parties can be arranged any time after 6 pm, complete with appetizers and bread dipping. Enjoy!