For Maureen Botelho, olive oil isn’t just for greasing a pan: it’s loaded with health benefits. In 2015, Botelho started Nectar de la Vida, a shop in Warren with a name that means “Nectar of Life.” Nectar de la Vida is a tasting room for olive oils and balsamic vinegars from all over the world, as well as a cafe that serves pastries and paninis. In the competitive retail and dining industries, Botelho is a breath of fresh air – she’s passionate about her products and the wellness she promotes.
What was your introduction to olive oil?
I had worked in banking for a long time, but before that I had studied nutrition. After I got married and had kids I did a lot of traveling, and my husband’s family, who are European, introduced me to olive oil. I started to study the Mediterranean diet and its benefits. I learned the difference between olive oil in the United States and olive oil in places like Spain, Portugal, and Italy. That’s when I really fell in love with fresh-pressed olive oil and the way we eat with it. I learned the experiential side of tasting in Napa Valley.
What did it take to open a shop after you found your passion for olive oils?
I had thought about it for almost two years before making the jump. I had been working in banking for so long, but it was something that my family was making more and more part of our own lifestyle. I took out my 401k and I went for it.
We built a relationship with a family in California, who were featured in Tom Mueller’s book Extra Virginity [and] do all of our crush and press. They are religious about their product and meeting with them was the final decision maker.
There’s so much work that goes into making an environment for real quality olive oils and we wanted to respect the product. We would have to take out all fluorescent lighting [and] it has to be in stainless steel tanks, so it took almost a year to remodel the place we are in now.
Nectar De La Vida is also a cafe. How do you manage that with the shop?
I’m very picky and I won’t feed you something I wouldn’t eat myself! We use the product line to make food, muffins, and desserts. We also make salads with homemade dressing, and we show people how you can begin and end your day with healthy choices. It helps people improve the way they eat and live.
Do you have a favorite flavor or dish you can recommend?
One of our most popular recipes is our Sicilian Lemon Chicken. The chicken is tenderized
and coated in one of our top ten oils. It’s just a little in the pan and we brown it. Then it goes in the oven until it’s crispy. We put blood orange olive oil over it with a lemon wedge and lemon balsamic.
What’s next for Nectar de La Vida?
We are becoming more popular with our food; we built the kitchen more for testing recipes but then we started serving them. We hope to start Take-Home Tuesday; we can provide customers and their families with good healthy food, and it’s easy to grab on your way home from work.
Nectar De La Vida
460 Main Street, Warren • 401-694-0776