Kevin Godbee · Aug 17, 2017 · 4 min read
Specialty Oils, Vinegars, Spirits, Wines & More ...
That You Can't Get Anywhere Else
Vom Fass is a specialty store like no other, and co-owners Jeff Ritter and Joe Pedro run it with a passion, and are delightful to spend time with, tasting samples of the many different oils, vinegars, and even imbibing their exclusive liquors. They have plenty of suggested recipes and uses for their products. You can literally taste-test any, and every item in the store before buying it. We tried a lot of stuff. We were there for over an hour, and we came away with lots of goodies, recipes, and a little buzz.
All of the Vom Fass products are high quality, and elegantly packaged, which make them great for gift giving—even to gift yourself. Most of the bottles can be personalized with a stylish cursive writing for gifts—such as "Happy Birthday, George!" written right on a bottle of scotch, for example.
Vom Fass, meaning "from the cask", was started 22-years ago in Germany by Johannes Kiderlen. The first US store opened in 2007 in Madison, WI. They are a national franchise, but locally owned and operated, and something not to be missed by foodies.
Jeff and Joe opened their store here in Downtown St. Pete about two years ago in Parkshore Plaza. The address is 300 Beach Drive, but since the complex takes the entire block, you will more easily find them at the corner of 1st St North & 3rd Ave North. (Click the map to enlarge.)
On one side of the store there are shelves filled with terracotta jars with all different types of rare nut and seed oils, and extra virgin olive oil—some infused, some not. There are also balsamic vinegars, and wine vinegars. There is one infused vinegar, and the rest are made from fruit wines, most of them being balsamic style. Jeff says that most other specialty stores' vinegars are made from grape wine, and then infused. Vom Fass on the other hand, makes a fruit vinegar, and then macerates more fruit, cooks it down and adds it to the vinegar to make the balsamic style.
Most of the vinegars are made in Germany. The nut and seed oils are made in France, the infused olive oils are from Italy, and the EVOOs are from various countries. There are oodles of different flavors to choose from ranging from sweet to tart to spicy.
On the other side of the store we find whiskeys, brandies, spirits, liqueurs, tequilas—we're liking this store more by the minute—there are also wines, cognac, elderflower liquor (which is far superior to St. Germaine), scotch, rum, grappa, and more.
There are 14 scotches, 10 of which are single-malt. Vom Fass buys small batch barrel runs, so the assortment changes as they go, and everything is rare and exclusive to them. We tasted and purchased some excellent scotch—some for special occasions and one as a gift for a friend. Aside from the excellent quality, another reason these make great gifts is because they come in uniquely shaped bottles with a handwritten label.
There are plenty of fun recipes for the booze too. To make a caramel apple drink we mixed Salted Caramel Cream Liqueur with Apple Vinegar. We were having so much fun that Lori said it reminded her of mixing Jelli Belli candies to get different flavors.
There are also vodkas, absinthe, mezcals, and gin aged in a bourbon barrel for three years. How cool is that?
The wines are all organic, some from California, Italy, and other countries, and all are reasonably priced.
Just about everything has a recipe card, and as previously stated, you can taste everything using a miniature cup—they actually encourage it. During our visit, Jeff was nearly chasing us around the store; "try this, try this, try this ..."—and we were happy to oblige. Instead of "kids in a candy store"—with lots of free samples—we were "grown-ups in a foodies store", and if you're a foodie, you have to check it out.
Vom Fass is a specialty store like no other, and co-owners Jeff Ritter and Joe Pedro run it with a passion, and are delightful to spend time with, tasting samples of the many different oils, vinegars, and even imbibing their exclusive liquors. They have plenty of suggested recipes and uses for their products. You can literally taste-test any, and every item in the store before buying it.