By Ben Olson
When Trevor and Deborah Kirk started Gethsemane Oil & Vinegar Shoppe on the Cedar Street Bridge more than two years ago, they truly found what it is to be a member of a community.
Located in the center of the Cedar Street Bridge by the spiral staircase, Gethsemane features in excess of 15 different flavors each of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegars and sea salts that add a touch of gourmet to just about anything.
“As a couple, we like dipping bread in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sea salt,” said Trevor. “It’s a blessing to have this store now to share with our customers.”
One great feature at Gethsemane is that customers can sample everything in the store before they buy, which encompasses more than 50 different items.
The extra virgin olive oils come from the Sutter Buttes Valley in California, because of the region’s high quality products.
“We chose that supplier because they begin processing the olive oil within 30 minutes of harvesting,” Trevor said. “The extra virgin has very specific parameters to be called extra virgin, one of which is an acidity level consistently below 0.8%. This supplier is consistently below 0.3% acidity. It’s very high quality oil.”
One of the most popular oils Gethsemane sells is the black truffle, which has a unique, robust flavor. Other varieties include basil, blood orange, butter flavored, California lime, citrus habañero, fresh garlic, garlic mushroom, Meyer lemon, jalapeño and more.
The balsamics are all produced in Modena, Italy, considered the balsamic capital of the world.
“They are traditionally reduced, so there are no added thickeners or sweeteners,” Trevor said. “There’s a big difference between what you get in a supermarket and a specialty store.”
In addition to the oils and balsamics, Gethsemane sells flavor-infused sea salts to complete the gourmet trinity.
“The quality of the salt is very important,” Trevor said. “We have everything from very fine grain to coarse grain, to black Hawaiian, which has activated charcoal in it giving it a smooth texture. There’s also something called fleur de sel [‘flower of salt’], which is considered the caviar of sea salt due to its rarity and light, flaky texture. In addition to these, there are smoked sea salts, five different spicy sea salts and more.”
On top of supplying a host of different flavor combinations, Gethsemane owners always offer advice on the perfect pairings for their products.
“For example, take whitefish, which is sometimes bland,” Trevor said. “You bake it in a Meyer lemon olive oil, then the last couple of minutes you put a glaze of lemon balsamic on top and finish with lemon sea salt. That’s what we really like. We love what you can do with the products.”
“You can even add balsamics to sparking water to make a refreshing spritzer,” Deb added. “The green apple and lemon tastes best with sparkling water.”
Sharing recipes and seeing repeat customers is something the Kirks said they really enjoy, and they say they are always eager to hear a new flavor combination they haven’t yet discovered.
“Someone came in and said, you should try the black truffle sea salt on steak,” Trevor said. “They took black truffle sea salt and put some on the top and bottom, barbecued the steak and added nothing else. It’s the best steak you’ve ever had. Now we tell people that all the time.”
Deb said olive oils are also a great substitution for baking at a 75% ratio — that is, if a recipe calls for a cup of butter, it can be substituted for 3/4 cup of olive oil.
“We make blood orange brownies, substituting blood orange olive oil for butter,” she said. “For cornbread, instead of butter, we use jalapeño olive oil. We even have butter olive oil, which I just used to make chocolate chip cookies with.”
“I also always wanted to roast my own candied nuts, so when we moved to this space, we started nut roasting as well,” Trevor said.
Gethsemane is actually a combination of the Oil & Vinegar Shoppe and Panhandle Nut House, featuring a variety of different candied nut flavors, among their other products.
The Kirks said they developed candied nut recipes based on traditional recipes, adding their own unique flavors. Two of the most popular varieties are a traditional cinnamon vanilla blend, which is a German-based recipe they use on pecans, almonds and cashews. The most popular flavor is the Cedar Street Bridge Special, which is a spicy nut available both in pecans and almonds. They even have a seasonal variety for Christmas called Cocoa Candy Canes.
“It’s something we really enjoy doing,” Trevor said. “The entire bridge smells like nuts when we’re roasting. We enjoy that.”
“We also try to incorporate as much olive oils in the nuts as possible,” Deb said. “We’ve even used balsamic in a nut for the cinnamon apple almond flavor.”
The Kirks, with three children and two grandchildren who all live in town, are proud of their products, and even prouder to be part of a vibrant community.
“People will come in and tell me, ‘Try the fig balsamic on sauteed brussels sprouts,’” Deb said. “I love the involvement we get from the community. I always tell people, if you think it might taste good, give it a shot because it most likely will.”
The name Gethsemane, the Kirks said, is appropriate for their store because it’s the name of the Garden of Gethsemane, from the Bible, but also means the olive press, or a place of pressing.
“It’s quite appropriate for us,” Trevor said. “We love Jesus, we love meeting and talking with people, so Gethsemane really fits what we stand for.”
In addition to their oils, balsamics, nuts and salts, Gethsemane also features loose leaf teas, soy candles, handmade olive wood products and specialty artisan pastas and spreads, with everything from mustards to tapenades to jams and jellies.
“If you’re hungry, this is the place to be,” Deb said.
Check out Gethsemane yourself on the Cedar Street Bridge from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Or shop online at gethsemaneshoppe.com.
While we have you ...
... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.
You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal