Garlic and Oil

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    SPARTA-Life-changing events can often lead to a new and fulfilling venture. Such is the case of three female entrepreneurs whose businesses now occupy store fronts at the Upper Lake Plaza, 270 Sparta Avenue in Sparta: Garlic & Oil, a gourmet food specialty store, The Pet Shoppe and Spa, an upscale pet supply store, and Buckles & Bows, a unique children's shoe store. Garlic & Oil owner Kathryn Kaplan was a successful businesswoman in the fashion industry, having held the position of vice president of design for several major clothing and accessories companies. She then became the victim of downsizing and her division and job were eliminated. Unable to find a job that suited her talents, Kaplan says she decided to make her own job by opening the retail store. The decision to feature gourmet foods grew out of a perceived need for products she said were not easily found in the area. "I love to cook and entertain," said Kaplan. "I found it frustrating that I could not find high quality, unusual ingredients locally and thought that perhaps there were others like me who were looking to have that need met." The colorfully laid out emporium specializes in providing everything one needs to host a fabulous party, cook a delicious, easy, meal, bake a wonderful dessert, create a lovely table or give a great gift. Specialty brands such as Stonewall Kitchen and Bandana Bandit Salsa are among the favorites of her faithful customers. Best selling Robert Rothschild dips and mustards also bring in loyal fans, especially for the Raspberry Honey Mustard Pretzel Dip. The tapenades, huge array of specialty crackers and the gourmet oils and vinegars are also very popular. The store stocks fresh, hand-made artisan cheeses from all over the world such as Red Dragon from Wales, a cheddar cheese with mustard seed and ale. From Ireland there is a cheddar cheese veined with Guinness stout. Delice de Bourgogne, a rich, creamy cheese containing 75 percent butter fat, is just one of the French offerings. There is even a cheese from Tasmania, Roaring Forties Bleu Cheese. One of the store's specialties is an incredible assortment of ice cream cones, toppings and dishes. The variety of cones includes chocolate chip, Oreo cookie , M&M and pretzel cones. There are at least 15 different sauces and toppings, including bittersweet chocolate, pear cinnamon caramel, and spirited peach. Important to the business are the gift basket creations Kaplan designs for every occasion. The store offers free delivery in the Sparta area and ships out-of-town orders UPS. "We offer themed baskets," says Kaplan. "The pasta dinner basket which includes hand-made pasta, an incredible sauce, bread dipper oil, appetizers and biscotti is very popular. And the breakfast basket is great for families. It includes everything you need for a wonderful breakfast. Gourmet pancake and waffle mix, fabulous syrups, jams, scone mix and clotted cream are among the favorites." Customers can also pick out the items they want and have the basket made up, or they can just call the store and, said Kaplan , "we will walk you through it". ‘Grab-and-Go' baskets are pre-made and ready to go for those looking for a quick gift. Custom-made baskets can usually be ready the same day as ordered. Garlic & Oil is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays for special events. Kaplan can be reached at 973-729-0080. For more information, visit the store's Web site at