Black currant or raspberry balsamic vinegar? Tequila lime or white truffle dipping oil? The choices abounded at the Blendissimo’s Gourmet Blends booth, managed by Mercer Island resident Phyllis Schut at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle last week.
Schut founded Blendissimo’s Gourmet Blends in August, offering premium blended olive oils and balsamic vinegars from Leonardo e Roberto’s Gourmet Blends. She sells her product at shows, as she does not have a shop. “I don’t want it to be just another bottle on the shelf,” said Schut, who joined 349 other exhibitors at the last Northwest Flower and Garden Show to be held in Seattle, the second largest show of its kind in the United States with over 60,000 visitors. The show will not return due to the closure of its founder and organizer, Salmon Bay Events, and the failure to find a buyer.
A friend got Schut “hooked” on Gourmet Blends oils and vinegars, she said. “I didn’t want to use anything else. [My friend] told me what he was doing, and he sent me his entire line. I loved all the products and one thing led to another.”
Schut initially waited to start Blendissimo’s because she wanted to watch her son, Matt, play on the Mercer Island High School basketball team last year — his senior year.
Then, when the timing was right, she had to decide on a company name.
“It came to me in the middle of the night because all of our products, except for balsamic vinegar, are blended. ‘Issimo’ is Italian for wonderful or beautiful,” said Schut. “The dipping oils, they’re not all Italian, but the balsamic vinegars are all obviously Italian; raspberry, vanilla fig, passion currant. I ran it by my daughter and she thought it was a great name, so that was it.”
Blendissimo’s oils and vinegars are blended and bottled once each month by Leonardo e Roberto’s Gourmet Blends in Napa Valley, Calif., on an as-needed basis “so nothing is on a shelf or in a warehouse for very long,” Schut explained.
The traditional balsamic vinegar, which is similar to champagne, has been barrel-aged for 25 years in Modena, Italy.
What most impressed Schut about the product, she said, is “how it sells itself — ask anybody who tastes it. Also, the quality is fabulous.” It can be used in anything from pasta salad to stir-fry and even ice cream, she said.
Whether at a show in Wenatchee, Wash., or the Bellevue Home Show, or making plans for the upcoming Northwest Women’s Show in Portland and an autism fundraiser — “It’s been really successful so far,” Schut said. “I’m just taking it as it comes and enjoying it.” As for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show: “I think it’s such a great event every year. I know a lot of people are sad about it ending,” said Schut.