For more than a decade, Ken and Gabby Navidi
have run their downtown Camas store like a well-oiled machine, primed with some of the best vinegar and oils from around the world, and curated salts and other epicurean goodies to satisfy any cook or gourmet in the Southwest Washington region.
More than 10 years ago, a neighbor invited the couple to a downtown Camas First Friday event. Gabby said, “Oh, this is nice. What a cute little downtown. Let’s do something here!” The couple knew they wanted to run a business in their own community, and work close to home. It was a natural fit to open a business downtown.
Since opening in November of 2009, Gabby said that the couple has “made many friends by sharing our knowledge of how to spot quality and fresh foods. Not only do we provide fresh ingredients, but we also teach people how to cook with them. We offer a taste before-you-buy experience, so that you can be assured you will like and enjoy every product you purchase at Navidi’s.”
Navidi‘s offers quite a large, and very unique inventory of hard-to-find products not normally sold in the big stores. Gabby said they introduce the latest and newest products each month, and they are continually looking to stock local products. “We aim to support other local business and producers whenever we can,” she said.
That hometown feel has been the hallmark of the oil and vinegar company downtown, and the customer list shows the wide ranging appeal of Navidi‘s products and services. Covid-19 has put a wrinkle in the standard operating procedures of many downtown merchants, Navidi‘s is no different. They are currently not offering samples of the products during the phases and regulations set by state and local governments. But they hope to resume their normal business procedures once the regulations are lifted in the near future.
Gabby said that being a place where one could experience a plethora of unique flavors from around the world, the specialty food store likes to keep its local epicurious customers on the cutting edge of tastes and flavors. She said the best selling oils and vinegars in this community are the 18-year aged balsamic vinegar, the meyer lemon balsamic, the Tuscan herb olive oil, and the garlic olive oil.
This summer, Navidi‘s offered up advice and selections to boost great seasonal salads, this through their hand-select olive oils, seed & nut oils, and balsamics, handcrafted pastas, gourmet sauces, high-quality loose teas, and special flavored sea salts.
Gabby said that prior to Covid-19, they often invited customers to touch, smell, and taste the quality of the products and offered customers education about the differences in olive oil and vinegars, how to identify quality, and how to eat healthy. They then offered recipes and suggested pairings. Navidi‘s owners and staff know that in these summer months, people crave fresh, green, vibrant salads … and they offered tips to flesh out the range of possibilities.
First, they suggested all their cooks check what’s in their fridge and cupboards. “We believe strongly in using what you already have and in improvising,” Gabby said. “Then, think about families of ingredients that belong to the same style of cuisine, region of the country or world, or harvest season. Chances are, if you choose ingredients this way, the flavors of your salad will go together and make a harmonious whole. On the other hand, you don’t want your salad to be too homogenous and boring. Using opposite flavors in your salad will keep it interesting and balanced. We like to offset salty flavors with sweet, soft things with crunchy elements, bitter or sharp flavors with rich and creamy things, and light ingredients with more filling ones. Adding protein (animal or vegetable) and high-fiber veggies to your salads can help keep you feeling full longer.”
You can discover and get your favorite olive oil and vinegar pairing, among many other food treasures, in store at 322 NE Cedar Street or shop online at www.navidioils.com.