At Vom Fass (5725 Magazine St., 302-1455; www.vomfass-nola.com), customers can taste-test everything in the store, including olive oils, liquors, wine and fruit vinegars. Although some might balk at the idea of drinking vinegar, Vom Fass is slowly changing that reluctance. "Star Forest Raspberry is a vinegar you can drink by itself. It's been aged for seven years," says managing partner Christine Herman. "Oils and vinegars aren't just for salads anymore. You can use them for just about anything."
There are 300 Vom Fass loca-tions worldwide, but only seven are in the United States. Herman and co-owner Denise Dussom take pride in their rare, exotic merchandise: The pumpkin seed oil is made in Stryia, Austria, and Vom Fass is the only Louisiana distributor of Urbani truffle salt and truffle cream sauce, which Dussom calls "the Rolls-Royce of truffles."
Vom Fass — German for "from the cask" — recently added scotches, whiskeys, brandies, wines, liqueurs and spirits, many of which blend well with oils and vinegars. "Instead of putting Creme de Cassis in your champagne for a Kir Royale, we put the Star Forest Raspberry," Herman says.
A Tales of the Cocktail competitor recently bought Calamansi Waldburg Balsam vinegar to use in his margarita recipe. Restaurants Domenica, GW Fins, Patois and Luke also use Vom Fass products. "If you want to make an impression, just go to the store and grab some ice cream and drizzle some of our oils over it," Dussom says.
Special events like cooking classes and wine tastings showcase the versatility of the products; a recent event featured four French wines, an absinthe cocktail and absinthe cookies. "We had a wine tasting here, and there was one woman who didn't drink wine," Dussom says. "We had iced tea in the back, but no sugar or lemon because I wasn't anticipating serving tea. I told her, 'You're welcome to put some of the honey vinegar and the calamansi in (the tea).' I couldn't keep her away from the fruit vinegars."
Some oils sold at Vom Fass can be used in beauty regimens. "We carry wellness oils, like an argan oil from Morocco," Herman says. "Besides cooking with it, it's very good for your hair and skin. Right now you're seeing a lot of beauty products with argan in it, but ours is the real thing without any additives." She and Dussom urge people to come in the store, ask questions and learn about the versatility of oils and vinegars.
"It's a place where you can come and feel comfortable and get some advice about things," Dussom says.