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Downtown

Downtown: A new taste comes to South Main Street

When Charla Mayotte moved to New Hampshire from upstate New York earlier this year, she and her husband, Clark, didn’t expect to have so much trouble finding the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar they used regularly in their kitchen.

So when the Mayottes couldn’t track down their go-to products in Concord, they took the matter into their own hands.

They opened a store of their own.

“We had to have it,” Charla Mayotte, 40, said.

Celeste Oliva opened on South Main Street at the beginning of August. Mayotte sells extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Veronica Foods, a niche company based in California. The quality is unparalleled, Mayotte insisted.

“What we can’t get away from is the extra virgin olive oil,” she said, pointing to the silver vats in the middle of her store. “As soon as the olives are fresh, they are crushed within (two) to four hours. It’s a huge difference.”

Other companies that mass produce olive oil don’t pick the olives soon enough or wait too long to crush them, she explained, but the products in her store come off the tree in Peru, Chile or Australia at exactly the right moment.

A sign outside advertises free tastings. The shelves are stocked with rows of thin-necked bottles, their labels noting exotic flavors like cayenne-fused chili spicy olive oil or aged blueberry balsamic vinegar. Mayotte deftly grabs a plastic tasting cup and explains the difference between infused and fused oils. (When the olives are crushed with the mix of herbs or flavors, the end result is a fused olive oil. When the added flavor is mixed in later, that product is an infused oil.)

A little bit of cranberry pear balsalmic vinegar, and a dash of blood orange olive oil. It’s sharp but fruity, and the tang rests in the back of my throat. Her most unexpected combination? She thought for a moment, then splashed butter olive oil and a maple-flavored balsamic vinegar together in my tasting cup. The combination tasted like syrup, but lighter.

Mayotte’s favorite part of the job is “educating people, seeing their eyes light up,” she said. “Like, ‘Oh, that’s how this is supposed to taste.’ ”

She didn’t expect to work in her own store. Mayotte’s husband transferred to New Hampshire for his work with ADT Security, and the family has two young children. But their passion for these ingredients has gone beyond the Mayotte’s new kitchen in Hooksett, and the couple was encouraged by their first impression of the business community in Concord.

“Coming here and seeing a city like this, with all the quaint little stores, it’s a good little city,” Mayotte said.

Most of the bottles in Celeste Oliva or on the store’s website cost between $11 and $25. For those who stare at her shelves with confusion, Mayotte has a list of recipes that range across a meal from appetizers to dessert. Located in the strip mall at 75 S. Main St., the store is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

“You can come in and try whatever you want,” Mayotte said.

For more information, visit celesteoliva.com.

Main Street construction begins – sort of

Prep for underground utility work will begin on North Main Street during the week of Sept. 8. Construction on those utilities will start the week of Sept. 15.

North Main Street will continue to be open for two-way traffic, and city staff has pledged delays will be minimal. The sidewalks will be mostly undisturbed during this first phase of construction. The major work to redesign and rebuild about nine blocks of downtown will get underway in the spring of 2015.

Stay tuned for more updates in the Monitor.

Ducks and dragons

The city’s annual Weekend on the Water festival returns Saturday and Sunday at Kiwanis Riverfront Park. This year’s event will again include dragon boat races, duck boats, a beer garden, a craft fair, live music and other activities. Admission is free, and the event is sponsored by the city’s parks and recreation department, the Rotary Club of Concord, the Black Ice Pond Hockey Association and Concord Crew. For more information and a schedule of events, visit concordwow.org.

New this year, sign up for the Friendly Kitchen Road Race on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. at the New Hampshire Technical Institute. For more information and pre-registration, contact Perry Seagroves at pseagroves@ccsnh.edu. You can register and pick up race numbers – and buy a Friendly Kitchen apron to wear during the run – on Saturday at Weekend on the Water from noon to 6 p.m.

Gone fishing

In honor of Labor Day, city offices and the Concord Public Library are closed today. Trash and recycling collection is also on holiday. Collection will be delayed one day for the remainder of the week through Saturday, starting with today’s route collected tomorrow.

Editor’s Note: The original version of this story has been updated to correctly identify Clark Mayotte’s employer and differentiate between infused and fused olive oil. The extra virgin olive oil at Celeste Oliva also comes from Peru, Chile and Australia, and its balsamic vinegar comes from Italy.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Legacy Comments9

Thank You Megan. The article looks great!!

I have a lot of edits that need to be on the article for us. Concord monitor should be fixing them.

Downtown can fall into the Merrimack River as far as I care. Speaking of which, when is the Sewells Falls Road bridge replacement project going to start?

rje49, The "Sewells" Falls bridge doesn't exist. Never did. Go to sewallsfallsbridge.com.

Dirt, Please accept my apology for mis-spelling the word. At least you knew what I was referring to!

rje49, I'm sorry, but you've misspelled, "misspelling". (c:

"Downtown can fall into the Merrimack River as far as I care." Whence comes all this hostility? Did you once trip on a Main Street curbstone? Get a parking ticket? Bad service at one of the eateries? Or is it merely displaced from some other perceived injury?

Nope, just has something to do with public safety & priorities. I don't wish anything bad on anybody downtown. I'm simply more concerned with those who cross the red-listed bridge every day. Like me.

In regards to the Celeste Oliva article it is very nice. There were a few typos though and things that needed clarifying. 1. Fused and Infused is backwards in this article. Fused is, the olive oil is crushed with the fruit/herb or vegetable at the same time, infused is the olive oil is already crushed and the flavoring is added afterwards. 2. my husband does not work for EDT it's ADT Security. 3. All of the extra virgin olive oils are not from Italy they are from different countries. 4. The olives don't come from a vine they come from a tree. 5. The difference of the ultra premium extra virgin olive oil is the olives are picked when they are green not black. After they are picked no matter what country they are picking the olives from they are crushed within 2 to 4 hrs. 6. The ultra premium extra virgin olive oil we have in our store now is from Peru, Australia, and Chili. 7. Our small bottle is 11.00, medium is 16.50 and large is 22.00 unless you would like specialty oils and those are a little more. Just don't want to mislead the public on this. Thank you for the article and for your time.

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