After providing the soundtrack for my pierogi experience singer-songwriter Jackson Hunt sent me a follow-up email in which he suggested I go visit a little Clearwater grocery called Plateroti’s Italian Gourmet. According to Hunt, this place does one of the best sandwiches he has ever had. I finally made it over a few weeks ago and it was an eye-opening experience for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, I expected something sort of like Mazzaro’s. A bustling grocery, huge cheese counter, fresh desserts and a deli where sandwiches were being slung left and right. Plateroti’s is actually the complete opposite of this. There was only one other person in the small storefront (so small that if you blink twice you’ll miss it) when J-Fur and I opened the door. Employee wise it was just owner Sal Plateroti and his granddaughter running the enterprise. I perused the aisles (there were only two) while Sal and his customer engaged in a long conversation about olive oil. I kept looking around for a menu or sandwich board that would tell me I was in the right place and provide me with that same sandwich Jackson boasted of. When Sal was finally free I decided to ask him. He told me that he doesn’t really do sandwiches anymore because he hates doing it (although he also told me he made a special one for some Yelper who happened in) and then launched in to a promotion of the San Giuliano Extra Virgin Olive Oil that was on his counter.
Here is where my eyes were opened again. It seems that some olive oil companies, like the big corporate ones that line the shelves at my local supermarket chain, have been scamming consumers by selling them lower grade oils. The most notable culprit is Rapeseed Oil which has been doctored chemically to become undetectable. Sal reached behind his counter and got out a well used report that explained which companies have done it and what they’ve done. It absolutely blew my mind. Here I was spending 20-30 dollars on what I thought was olive oil but in fact was an oil that does not offer the same health benefits. I mind as well have been slathering my dishes with butter. Sal’s oil was 100 percent olive oil. He was willing to put his reputation on the line and offered us a chance to smell and taste it before we bought any. During our conversation a number of other people entered and left with bottles of the San Giuliano. Each one swore by it, one even suggesting that she gave it out for Christmas presents to her family members and they were all pestering for more. After much debate I decided to get two, one for salads one for cooking and Sal was nice enough to offer us a discount on the two bottles. With that extra money I found a roasted vegetable stromboli in the cold case (freshly made in house) and decided to get it. I couldn’t leave without trying something they made.
Plateroti’s Roasted Vegetable Stromboli
The stromboli wasn’t cheap. It was sold by the pound and we wound up with a two pound slice. I think it came out to be 15 dollars. What I loved about the stromboli was that the roasted vegetables, which were a mixture of onions, carrots and broccoli and dough, were front and center. The cheese was kept to a minimum and there was no sauce. This meant that every bite was 95 percent vegetable and dough. While this was the strength of the ‘boli, it was also its downfall (albeit a slight one). I would’ve hoped for something with a little more pizzaz inside. Maybe some fresh herbs or garlic to liven it up a bite and compliment the veggies and oil. While I may not return to Plateroti’s too often for their stromboli, I will definitely be back for their olive oil. I’d also like to give their freshly made house cheeses and sauces a try.
The thought that my whole life I’ve been loving on olive oil and it may actually have been rapeseed is a bit tough to swallow. If my feelings were put to song they would probably sound something like the Mowgli’s “San Francisco.” The song deals with some letdown and lies in an upbeat and excited manner. I can get behind that. I mean at least I found out now and not thirty years from now.
Orca! Straight! Ahead! can best be described as sounding like a lost a sea with nothing but a Nintendo without controls so we create a dance party to the music Black Moth Super Rainbow. It’s fun, fast, and furious in an 8 bit kind of way. Orca! Straight! Ahead! also has some of the best toys in music.