Three Shop Owners Spill on Their Favorite Gifts This Season

We polled the faces behind Warren's Nectar de la Vida, Cranston's Mod Mama and Providence's Palomino.

Photography by Chris Vaccaro

Maureen Botelho

Nectar De La Vida | 460 Main St., Warren, 694-0776,

Maureen Botelho’s love affair with liquid gold began after visiting an olive oil shop in Napa Valley. Her specialty shop in Warren, Nectar De La Vida, boasts an extensive collection of olive oils and balsamics, and features salads, paninis and baked goods served in-house using their products. Turns out it’s easy to add a holiday touch to your favorite foods. By Samantha Labrecque.

If someone comes into the shop and says “olive oil is olive oil,” what would you say to them?
If you went to change the oil in your car, would you ask them to put the oldest, worst oil back in? It’s the same thing with the human body. Wouldn’t you want to put the best in there to keep yourself healthy?

What do you think will be hot sellers this holiday season?
We bring out new press in the fall, and we like to pick a new country. I’ll check parts of South America to pick up something unique. We also do lifestyle gift baskets with edible products and body products and bring it all together. We have a little bit of everything.

Do you tend to have more men or women shopping in your store during the holidays?
I actually have a lot of men. I’m finding that men are interested in cooking and food, and they often choose the more flavored olive oils like garlic and Tuscan herb.

What is your favorite recipe, using one of your products, that you could take with you to a party?
We do what we call a Sicilian lemon chicken and we do it with a balsamic and an olive oil. It’s very easy. When you put it in the oven, it becomes crispy on top and caramelized on the bottom. It’s so good and actually pretty simple.

What is your personal favorite thing to gift?
A package gift called “dinner in a bag” that feeds a family of four. With that you get EVOO, a balsamic, one of our fresh dried pastas, a sauce packet, recipe suggestions and chocolate truffles with olive oil centers for dessert. You gotta have dessert.

What is an item in your store that you would like to receive as a gift?
One thing I really like is a good pasta and to know that the grains are not bad for me. Our pasta is fresh dried and is part of the non-GMO project; our grains are grown on the West Coast.

You are focused on EVOO and balsamics. Have you expanded your product line?
Other than our edible products, we also have Australian olive oils that come in shampoos, conditioners, cleansing oils, body oils, you name it. We are bringing in not just internal, but external good health too.

What is a good gift if you are not sure of someone’s personal taste?
There are two things. One is to give [them] two empty bottles and a gift certificate to have the gift recipient come in and experience the tasting bar. There, they can taste every single product to make a decision. The other option is to gift them the eighteen-year, four-barrel traditional balsamic, which is something that the most basic cook can use. As for olive oils, we’ll start you off with a mild one.