As we dive deeper into the greater Champaign County area and all it has to offer, it's becoming unmistakably clear that the best places are not hidden at all, but right in front of our face. We live here, eat here, shop here, and it's so easy to be blinded by our daily schedule, passing by gems that are only hidden by our own perspective, waiting to be uncovered by a change of routine. Grovestone, a small shop specializing in Ultra-Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil, is another hidden gem that isn't really hidden at all. Located in the Old Farm Shops in Champaign, you may have gone shopping, gotten a haircut, or picked up a quick coffee and been none the wiser that this gem was not but 30 feet away from you.
There is so much I did not know about, what seems like a simple product, that I learned from a visit to Grovestone. Grovestone carries a wide variety of Award-Winning Ultra-Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil, vinegars, seasonings, pasta, and wines.
The Why You Should Go (NOW!):
For someone who uses olive oil regularly in my daily cooking, it was surprising to see the extensive variety of olive oil that was available. Grovestone has a variety of flavored olive oils that range from the simple, to bacon olive oil, to chipotle olive oil. Whatever your tastes or cooking style, there is an olive oil at Grovestone to fit your needs. One surprising area that truly opened my eyes, was the wide selection of balsamic vinegars. The spectrum ranged from a dark smoked balsamic vinegar to a strawberry balsamic vinegar that was so sweet and flavorful, you could sip as a wine. The pairing options reached well into the hundreds when you add the selection of herbs and spices, wines, and pasta that is also available at Grovestone.
Owner, Loui Liagridonis, is not only knowledgeable but passionate about his business. The moment you step into Grovestone, Loui goes above and beyond to make you feel welcome. The space is open, simple, and modern, and with all the different products available it can seem like a bit of a task trying to figure out where to start. Loui puts all your reservations to rest with knowledge, passion, and a general love of every product that is available.
Grovestone is a family owned business. I lead with that because after taking a tour of the business, speaking with Loui, and having a few samples, my first thought was confirmed. Behind a contemporary space with very modern product designs, is literally hundreds of years of family history that go into every product. Everything is prepared and packaged in house, and the minor variances in packaging bring character and warmth to the products. Whether you buy a bottle of olive oil, wine, balsamic vinegar, or herbs and spices, you can be assured that it is processed, packed, and prepared for you with a rich family history behind it.
One of the best qualities about this hidden gem, is the samples. Grovestone has an open tasting policy. Everything on the floor for sale, is also available for sampling. This was great for those flavors of oil, balsamic vinegar, and even herbs that you know exist but just have never been within reach. The combinations between olive oil, vinegar, and spices can reach into the hundreds and with all the available products you're sure to find a favorite combination.
As with any of the hidden gems in the greater Champaign County area, Grovestone has it all, a great staff, amazing products, and an inviting atmosphere. Whether you're a full-time chef looking to widen the spectrum of flavors you serve, or you're just looking for a way to spice up your weekday dinners, there's something here for everyone. The ability to try different flavor combinations in the store, provides a unique experience that you can't get just anywhere. This hidden gem will definitely not stay hidden for long, with weekly cooking classes soon to be up and running, so keep a look out for those. In the meantime, if you have a moment, stop in and check out Grovestone.