Right in the heart of Maplewood, Missouri, next to the spice shop, sits a quaint little specialty shop called Vom Fass. Vom Fass in German means “of the cask.” It’s aptly named because everything in the store is in barrels, all the fine imported olive oil, scotch whiskeys, aged fruit vinegars, and so much more.
From the website: “Welcome to the world of VOM FASS, where the time-honored European traditions in crafting gourmet culinary condiments, fruit vinegars , exquisite oils, selected wines, exotic liqueurs and fine and rare spirits, all sold straight from the cask, are revered.”
In 1994, Johannes Kiderlen took over his father’s import shop in Germany. He soon decided to focus on four products and do them well: “fruit vinegars, exquisite oils, selected wines, and exclusive spirits direct from the cask.” And the customers would not only get some of the finest products in the world, but they could also choose their own bottles! Today, that one little shop has grown to 210 locations worldwide.
I recently visited the store and spoke to the manager, Anita. Coincidentally the owner’s name is also Anita. As you enter the shop, you come upon the fine olive oils from all over the world, not only from Italy but also from Greece and Spain as well.
The really neat thing about this store is that you can sample everything they have. I’ve managed many different restaurants over the years and I know that sampling always gets restaurant patrons coming back for more. The same is true for retail shops.
Anita handed me a small plastic spoon so I could taste some of the oils. I liked them all (one even had a nice bite to it), but I particularly liked the Santini from Italy.
Another neat thing about Vom Fass is you can choose from a selection of colorful glass bottles and they will fill them from the casks that are lined up around the store. When you run out, just bring the bottle back and get it refilled. Besides saving money this is a very environmentally responsible thing to do.
Next, I got to taste a couple of the Scotch whiskeys. I like a Scotch with a lot of smoky flavor and one that I tasted was fantastic. I’ve never tasted a Scotch with such a peaty flavor before. I thought to myself that I could drop some serious money in this place.
And that’s the only somewhat negative thing that I can say about Vom Fass: it’s so unique and the quality is so high that you could easily part with all of the cash that you came in with.. But that’s not really such a bad thing after all, is it?