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Great Tasting Ingredients (evoo, wine vins) Low $$

Hey, wondering where I can get some great tasting "special occasion" type olive oil and wine vinegars, without going to ridiculously expensive high-markup posh stores?

I used to like a Cheese store near Bloor West Village (ahem) until I saw they had a bottle of $1.99 Sriracha sauce selling for.... $11.99. Makes me wonder how much they're marking up everything else.. I feel dirty going there now. :)

So what are some great ingredients to stock my shelves with, good enough for a Chef, but cheap enough for me to actually buy some? I don't mind paying the money for a good product, but not if it's 50% cheaper somewhere else!

Looking forward to your recommendations, I could definitely use some better oils and vinegars. What else would go into this category? Can't think... I guess Balsamic too.

For the record, I have a big can of "Gallo" olive oil that I bought from Dominion for like $13 I think, and I have a plastic bottle of Red Wine Vinegar from Unico, and white wine vinegars: Maille, Four Monks.

I think I dislike them all equally. The oil is fine to cook with.

Anyways I'm looking for: Brands, Stores, and rough Prices!

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  1. You might find this thread interesting -
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/461304

    I am actually fond of a PC evoo, the one from Tuscany, for salads, veggies and cooking, can't remember how much it costs. I love to dribble it on a salad of chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta (actually not crumbles -- big chunks!) and fresh garlic chives from my garden plus salt/pepper and then sop up all the juice/oil with some lightly toasted Ace baguette slices. Plus a chilled pinot grigio.
    http://162.53.98.157/foodandrecipes/G...

    1. It's not fancy, but my favourite grocery store (ie. inexpensive) olive oil is Colavita. I discovered it a few years back when one of the papers (the Star, I think) rated a whole bunch of olive oils and it came in second (number one was a really expensive brand and I can't recall the name of it). I think that you can get it at most grocery stores (eg. Dominion, Loblaws).

      1. Kirkland evoo from Tuscany (Costco) is a benchmark, at $13/l. Reggiano is $25/kg there, and Danish blue about $17/kg. Mussels, $7 for 5lb., maple syrup $10/l., sushi rice $1/lb. but probably rising. Their balsamic is good for the price, but not thick and syrupy.
        Lately I have used Pagoda Shao Xing sherry for a lot of sauces, and it has much the same flavour and aroma as dry Spanish sherry. It is $3-$4 in Asian stores.
        Utopia organic canned tomatoes from Chatham ON are $1.70 at Loblaws, right beside the $4 Eden, also from Canada, via MI.
        Good Japanese miso is well priced at P.A.T., $5-$6/kg. Seaweed is also reasonable, $4/ quarter lb. And I've been looking for Golden Boy fish sauce, one of the best, without success.
        In mid summer, fresh frozen cherries are a bargain at Highland Farms, $18/pail, and they have good supplies of canning tomatoes in season, plus dried Greek oregano, Argentine anchovies, and Bulgarian Feta.
        Unfortunately I can't come up with a really intense vinegar, such as sherry, at a bargain price, but I'm looking.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jayt90

          I bought a bottle of this Costco olive oil, and it's pretty nice! Bit more spicy than I'm used to. I only tried it with some wholegrain regular bread I have, will have to get a proper french bread or something soon.

          I didn't see where they sell their Reggiano, forgot to ask.. Do you have to ask at a special area for it?

          Great info, if you can think of any more great ingredients at decent prices please let me know!! Thank you for your post.

          1. re: SocksManly

            I've always found the Reggiano in the regular cheese section, definitely a bargain! All the Best has a few of their oils and vinegars (mostly vinegars) as well as some condiments on half price right now. They're in a smaller store, so they're getting rid of some overstock. They had a few products from the "O" line of vinegars and a few Stonewall Kitchen products. There were a few good buys.

        2. Good quality and reasonable prices...

          Grande Cheese - All things Italian
          Pasquale Bros - Spanish, Portuguese, etc

          4 Replies
          1. re: Mila

            Also Maselli Supermarket on Danforth. And try some of their fantastic house proscuitto.

            Agreed on extortion at Cheese Boutique, Kagemusha.

            -----
            Pasquale Bros
            16 Goodrich Rd, Toronto, ON M8Z, CA

            Masellis Supermarket
            906 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J, CA

            Grande Cheese Co Ltd
            22 Orfus Road North York ON

            1. re: Mila

              I love Maselli Brothers for their great pasta selection and other italian items but I have to say I have not enjoyed their proscuitto. Both the texture and taste is different than I'm accustomed to. Somewhat off putting for me and I feel bad cuz I really wanted to like it. Kinda of neat that they are hanging it themselves in the basement.

              1. re: millygirl

                They just finished a new batch which I tried last week. Now, being new or young is not necessarily a good thing for proscuitto but I liked the flavour and fat / meat ratio.

                I'd rate it better than the Canadian, almost par with the 6 month Italian and not close to the 2 year Italian or Serrano - all usually gotten from Scheffler's at SLM.

                Try a sample of the new stuff when you're in.

          2. Try Boncheff on Olivewood in Etobicoke. Much lower prices on most vinegars/oils, etc. than the extortionate Cheese Ball. Nose around the "food zone" east of Kipling in the same area.