Dozens of samples of olive oil and balsamic vinegar line the “Wall of Flavor” at A Bit of Taste on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Dozens of samples of olive oil and balsamic vinegar line the “Wall of Flavor” at A Bit of Taste on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Oil and vinegar mix at this Snohomish store

A Bit of Taste offers gourmet olive oil and balsamic vinegar: Just add salad or a dash atop your avocado toast.

SNOHOMISH — Hoping to coax your kids (and maybe yourself) to eat more vegetables?

A visit to A Bit of Taste, an olive oil company in Snohomish, might be just the thing.

One customer’s 8-year-old son will only eat carrots with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Another customer’s toddler has to dip each leaf of lettuce in a fig flavored balsamic vinegar before taking a bite, said store owner Debe Franz.

And avocado toast isn’t quite as tasty without a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, Franz said.

At a tiny store in Bellingham twelve years ago, Franz discovered the flavors of gourmet olive oil and traditional balsamic vinegar.

The taste lingered.

The Lake Stevens resident and Everett Community College instructor began wishing there was a store closer to home.

It didn’t take long for Franz, who’d run a bookkeeping business for decades, to take the plunge into oil and vinegar.

She planned to open a store in Snohomish, but when Franz learned the Queen Anne Olive Oil Co. in Seattle was up for sale in 2019, she bought the business.

When the lease expired two years ago, she renewed her search for a Snohomish location.

A Bit of Taste is celebrating its second year at 1301 First St.

The store offers 70 olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

“We usually have about eight to 10 unflavored extra virgin olive oils and 15 flavored olive oils on display,” Franz said. “Another 12 rotate through the year.”

The shop carries about 20 flavors of balsamic vinegar, with another 25 on rotation, she said.

It’s a small store, just 850 square feet, but “all are in stock even if you don’t see them on display,” Franz said.

Also on the shelf, chocolates from France, olive-oil based baking mixes and locally-made goodies, including San Juan Island Sea Salt products and POSHI Bites artichoke snacks, a Seattle company.

“I could tell you a little story behind every one of these products,” Franz said, reaching for a snack-size bag of Pacific Popcorn, made by a Monroe company. “I was introduced to them at a food show in Seattle.”

Everything is meant to be tasted and savored.

Tiny paper sample cups dot the cheery store whose back porch has one of the best views of the Snohomish River.

“Customers can taste the products and know what they’re getting,” said Franz, whose monthly newsletter includes tips, recipes and customer favorites.

Maygen Hetherington, executive director of the Historic Downtown Snohomish Association and a member of the Snohomish City Council, got her first taste two years ago.

“I had just started my job, and she was one of the first businesses I welcomed,” Hetherington said.

At the ribbon-cutting, Franz served shrubs. Hetherington had no idea what those were.

“I was looking for a small plant,” she quipped.

Shrubs combine seltzer water with balsamic vinegar for a sweet but tangy drink.

“She served me one and I was hooked!” Hetherington said.

Shrubs were “the absolute rage in colonial America,” according to a Royal Coffee report, which called them “basically the first energy drink.”

“Water keeps people hydrated, and vinegar stimulates salivation which helps quench thirst and aids in digestion,” the report continues.

Start with a teaspoon or tablespoon of balsamic per eight ounces of seltzer. Hetherington’s go-to combo: Seltzer, Honey Ginger White Balsamic and a splash of Peach White Balsamic.

“She offers so many creative ways to use food,” she said. Another favorite: Persian Lime Olive Oil over popcorn with a dash of chili powder.

What is premium olive oil?

A Bit of Taste offers “ultra premium olive oils,” a trademark variety supplied by Veronica Foods, an Oakland-based company.

For an olive oil to be considered extra virgin it has to taste like olive oil, Franz said. At some stores, you’ll find some that are so refined they don’t taste like olive oil.

Olive oil is sourced from small producers around the world.

“Every six months we get an infusion of olive oil,” Franz said. “That’s the difference here — we know when it was crushed.”

That’s typically May or June for olives harvested in the southern hemisphere and mid-October for northern hemisphere varieties.

“Olive oil is the fruit juice of the olive,” Franz explained. “The fat keeps it more stable but it’s going to oxidize over time. So you want to use your olive oil within 18 to 24 months of when it was crushed.”

Store displays describe where the olives were crushed, their type and tasting notes from an olive oil sommelier. A bottle of Manzanillo Extra Virgin, for example, features “notes of unripe berries, melon and green banana. Balanced and a tad savory with a slight pepper finish.”

What is traditional balsamic vinegar?

Like how true champagne is only produced in Champagne, France, balsamic vinegar is authentic only if it’s produced in the Modena region of Italy.

Traditional balsamic vinegars must be aged a minimum of 12 years and have no ingredients other than grape must, the freshly crushed fruit juice. A Bit of Taste carries only traditional balsamic, which does not contain added sugar, sulfites, preservatives or red wine vinegar.

White balsamic vinegars are aged 12 years or more in white oak barrels. “The sweetness comes from letting those grapes ripen as long as possible, like a dessert wine,” Franz said.

Dark balsamics are aged for up to 18 years in chestnut, oak, mulberry and ash barrels.

Both varieties can be used for salad dressings, marinades for meat, poultry and fish or drizzled over fruit and vegetables and used for bread dipping.

For summer salads, Franz recommends Milanese Gremolata Olive Oil and Cranberry Pear White Balsamic: two-thirds olive oil to one-third balsamic and a little salt and pepper. For a creamy salad dressing, add a little mustard. For a steak marinade, try Chipotle Olive Oil and Serrano Honey Vinegar.

Or, Franz suggested, get creative and drizzle balsamic vinegar over yogurt, ice cream or avocado toast.

A Bit of Taste – Snohomish Olive Oil Co.

1301 First Street, Snohomish


Tuesday to Friday : 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday: Noon to 4 p.m.

Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097;; Twitter: @JanicePods.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Photos by Olivia Vanni / The Herald
Gabby Bullock sits on her bed in a room she shares with another housemate on June 14 in Everett.
‘We don’t have openings’: SnoCo recovery houses struggle with demand

Advocates say the homes are critical for addiction recovery. But home prices make starting a sober living house difficult.

Melinda Grenier serves patrons at her coffee truck called Hay Girl Coffee during the third annual Arlington Pride event in Arlington, Washington on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Food safety team defends its work: it’s a ‘high pressure, thankless’ job

Management tried to set the record straight about long permit delays in Snohomish County.

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Olivia Vanni/The Herald)
Global tech outage leaves a mark on Snohomish County

The CrowdStrike software update hit some systems at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and briefly disrupted 911 operations.

Performers joust during the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire at Sky Meadows Park in Snohomish, Washington, on Sunday, Aug. 06, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Royalty and revelry: The spirit of the Renaissance comes to Monroe

The annual Renaissance fair will open its doors every weekend from July 20 to Aug. 18

Trees and foliage grow at the Rockport State Park on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 in Rockport, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
When you get lost in WA, what’s the cost to get rescued? Surprisingly little

Washington’s volunteer search and rescue teams save lives without costly bills.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.