We’re checking in with the owner of Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars, a tasting boutique in downtown Traverse City, about pairings, flavors and health benefits.

Some surprising edibles that benefit from a drizzle of balsamic?

We do strawberry balsamic on watermelon, or the strawberry balsamic and basil olive oil—which is really nutty—on a cold fusilli pasta salad with cubed ham, browned just slightly to make it nuttier, cubes of fresh mozzarella and a lot of black pepper.

And I’ve heard you make a drink with balsamic?

It’s really good mixed with sparkling water, just a nice aged balsamic or the tangerine or strawberry balsamic. It’s soothing and blood-sugar leveling.

Tell me about the origin of your olive oils?

A lot of them come from Tunisia, and some from Chile and also some from Italy and Spain. The Chilean oils are really high in antioxidants; I think it’s the soil. A lot of people come in and ask, Are the olives grown here? I say, not yet!

What happens to a vinegar as it ages?

They all start with a vinegar mother, like yeast for bread, and in the barrel, which can be changed a few times as they age, they pick up new flavors. They become sweeter and thicker the older they get.

What are some really fantastic oil and vinegar pairings?

Garlic olive oil with white oregano balsamic smells almost like fresh bread. And the chipotle, the heat’s back on your palate until you mix it with pomegranate or cherry balsamic, and it changes it into a peppery taste.

What will you be putting oils and vinegar on this fall?

Vinegar really awakens flavors in soup. An 18-year balsamic is fantastic added at the end to potato soup.

What might people not know about infused olive oils?

Cooking with them makes everyone into a star.

Fustini’s is at 141 E. Front St., Traverse City, 231-944-1145, fustinis.com.

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski