Gourmet Living is the brand name of a limited number of food products sourced by Sheila and Richard ("Rick") May from around the world. As experienced travelers and gourmands, we are committed to bring to the attention of the American consumer food products of exceptional quality under our own private label: Gourmet Living
Sheila is an experienced nutritionist and has studied with Marcella Hazan in Italy. Having lived for extended periods of time in Italy, Greece, Spain, Argentina, Brazil and the United Kingdom, both Rick and Sheila realize the importance of fine food in a civilized society. Gourmet Living will introduce a limited number of products each year that enhance the flavor profile of fine foods.
For the most part, Gourmet Living's products are focused on supporting the culinary and nutritional benefits of a Mediterranean diet. While there are many studies touting the nutritional and health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, we prefer to focus on taste and how to get the most from natural foods.
Beginning in 2015, Rick and Sheila are thrilled to introduce a superb balsamic vinegar from Modena Italy certified by the Italian Consortium and a trio of colorful Mediterranean finishing salts. In the Fall, we also expect to introduce a very fine Extra Virgin Olive Oil from California. In addition to sourcing these exceptional products, Gourmet Living will provide a comprehensive reference resource on each of these products and some lovely recipes on how best to use these great products showcase your own culinary talent.
We look forward to sharing this gourmet adventure together. Cheers!
Why Gourmet Living?
We have chosen to brand ourselves "Gourmet Living" since it very much reflects the importance we place on the relationship between food and living. While many eat to "fuel the body," we view dining with friends and family as a vitally important social experience. In fact, one might argue that informed discourse over a bowl of gruel or gourmet food is both character-forming and a linchpin in understanding civilizations.
While you may not share those sentiments, I suspect that most people have definite opinions as to the source and quality of food they put into their bodies. While we encourage families to dine together, our primary goal is to provide gourmet food products that are naturally produced and enhance the flavors of other foods. In fact, we believe that the "Mediterranean diet" which has become fashionable among informed diners exemplifies the importance of eating fresh and non-processed foods.
Gourmet Living's food products are focused on delivering lifestyle changes one bite at a time!
The Mediterranean Diet
Having lived in Greece, Italy and Spain we can certainly attest that the farm-to-table lifestyle of Mediterranean people focuses on fresh produced rather than the heavily processed foods consumed by most Americans. Furthermore, we have found that Middle-eastern cuisine that borders the Mediterranean Sea also provides fresh flavor profiles that are most pleasing to the palette.
Now there are many unsubstantiated claims about the health and nutritional benefits of a Mediterranean diet. While many of these claims may be true, Gourmet Living restricts its labeling to claims supported by the USDA. While we certainly believe that our products promote a healthier lifestyle, we think it prudent to avoid hyperbole.
What Our Products are About?
Gourmet Living products fall into 4 major categories: Olive oils, balsamic vinegars, sea salt and natural sugars. Our basic goal is find less well-known artisan products in these 4 categories, brand them under the Gourmet Living label and then market them to discerning consumers.
We initially launched Gourmet Living with a balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy. Frustrated at the mislabeling balsamic vinegar in supermarkets, we decided to find our own brand that was free of additives and conformed to the regulations and authenticity of balsamic vinegar endorsed by the Italian consortium. We now have several grades of barrel-aged balsamic vinegar that meet all Italian and USDA regulations.
We plan to introduce extra virgin olive oils ("EVOO") from California, Italy (Tuscany), Spain and Greece over the next several years. We sample hundreds of olive oils and work with local vendors to discover olive oils of unmistakable quality that supports the Mediterranean diet. Our trio of Mediterranean Sea Salts crystals are from Cyprus and we plan on introducing artisanal Vermont maple syrup, honey and agave in the near future to round out our natural sugar line.
We recently returned from a month-long trip to Italy and were pleasantly surprised to find a bottle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on every table. It is no secret that balsamic vinegar enhances the flavor of everything from salads to meat - even ice cream.
Gourmet Living features an aged balsamic vinegar of Modena with an IGP certification which is very much more substantial that the traditional balsamic vinegars found at most grocery stores. In addition, we also will promote a 12-year and 25-year old Traditional Balsamic Vinegar that will be sold in a promotional box for special occasions. Traditional balsamic vinegar consists entirely of wine must or "mosto cotto.” All other balsamic vinegars consist of a mixture of wine vinegar and wine must.
Olive oil - particularly extra virgin olive oil - is at the center of a healthy Mediterranean diet. Extra virgin olive oil or "EVOO" is not often used as a cooking oil, but rather used to flavor salads, pasta, braised vegetables and even bread. Often seen as a substitute for butter, EVOO standards are established by the International Olive Oil Council. In its most simplistic form, EVOO most be harvested and crusted by mechanical means - no heat processing - so that the olives maintain their natural flavor.
There are many varieties of olive oil and differing opinions on the quality of oils produced in various regions of the world. While Spain is the largest producer olive oil (45% of world production), Italy (25%) and Greece (20%) produce large quantities of quality olive oil. Taste and color of olive oils is a matter of personal preference, but quality olive oils produced in Mediterranean countries tend to have more of a "peppery" finish.
In any event, Gourmet Living will be bringing a very attractive California olive oil made from the Picual olive to the market in 2015 and hopes to have a Tuscan blend on the market in 2016. We are currently studying olive oils from both Greece and Spain to round out our line of quality olive oils.
Few people are aware that USDA recommended daily allowance for salt is about 1 teaspoon. Sadly, Americans consume almost twice that amount, but 75% of their salt intake comes from processed foods. For those attracted to the nutritional benefits of a natural and organic Mediterranean diet, sea salt crystals - as a finishing salt - can dramatically increase the flavor profiles of most foods.
Many fine restaurants have cut back the use of salt in cooking and opted instead for finishing salts to allow the diner to season his or her own food. As Marcella Hazan once remarked, “Nothing is so necessary to the production of taste as salt.” We quite agree and strongly recommend that food be flavored with sea salt crystals. A little bit goes a long way to enhance flavors of cooked foods.
We believe that our trio of Mediterranean Sea Salts is a great way to flavor foods elegantly.
With so much focus on lowering the intake of carbohydrates, it is no wonder that many people feel uncomfortable about using sugar. Nevertheless, Americans consume on average between 150 and 170 pounds of sugar per annum - this is up from 4 lbs per annum in the 1900s. Roughly, one-third of our intake comes from sodas, but there are a lot of residual sugars in many processed foods and fruits.
While seriously concerned about obesity in America and the high level of sugars that permeate all segments of the food chain, Gourmet Living believes that natural sugars - used judiciously and in moderation - taste far better than sugar substitutes. For this reason, Gourmet Living will be introducing its own brand of organic Vermont maple syrup, honey and agave in the next couple of years.
Stay tuned for more details.