If you’re walking past one of Rice Village’s newest store, VOM FASS, and something catches your eye, don't hesitate on the sidewalk—just go in. As the door closes behind you, store owner Brian Moorhead will instantly welcome you. He’ll escort you around the store, pointing out the uniquely-made spice blends, the casked vinegars—made with real fruit, rather than fruit flavors—and the rich oils, all the while insisting you try each and everyone that piques your interest.
VOM FASS Houston
2424 Times Blvd.
It is all of these attributes of the store that make VOM FASS your go-to place for great grocery gifts as well as all your own culinary needs.
VOM FASS, a German phrase meaning “from the cask,” is a national company headquartered in Germany, which opened its first store 20 years ago. Now there are more than 300 franchise stores around the world. And as of November 1, Houston has its very own.
Moorhead's store offers something local grocery stores have been lacking: the opportunity to try all the products in the store—something Moorhead argues is necessary. "Olive oils are basically like wines," he says. "You have to taste them and see which one you really like, and each one has a different flavor profile."
You can roam around the store, flip through cookbooks, and peruse the products. And, when you find an interesting-sounding product—maybe the pistachio oil or the calamansi vinegar—just ask for a spoonful from the cask or the jar to see if it’s to your liking.
Also special about all VOM FASS products: the attention to quality. The company buys from family farms and has done for all of its 20 years. Some of the farms sell exclusively to VOM FASS, giving them even greater control over quality. Moorhead said the company’s dedication to families was what initially captured his interest.
Bigger companies or grocery stores’ products can get worsened from farm to shelves. "Olive oils break down with light and oxygen," Moorhead said. "Within 24 hours, we put the oil in these bladders in the casks, so we’ve eliminated that issue."
The spice blends that span a wall in the store are similarly unique. VOM FASS has peppers from all over the world and salts of every color, but the blends are the most pungent. "These are the freshest blends that you’ll find in Houston," Moorhead said. "Some of these are so fresh, they’ll take your breath away."
Moorhead encourages shoppers to mix and match the oils and vinegars as well. On my visit, he dripped a little of the pumpkin seed oil and into some pomegranate-balsamic vinegar to create a nutty and tart blend that would be terrific on a spinach salad with raisins and roasted almonds.
If, after this whirlwind tour, you simply can’t make up your mind, you can pick up a recipe book for just $6 or a gift set that includes a variety of oils or vinegars. You can even make your own set—the oils and vinegars range from $1.99 to $174 per 100 mL, but most are on the affordable end of that spectrum.
If you visit VOM FASS this weekend, you’ll be in for more than just unique oils and vinegars. The grand opening celebration spans from Thursday to Sunday, with events full of free bites from local vendors and restaurants, a cookbook signing, and a chance for kids to create their own salad dressings. For more information on weekend events, visit the store’s Facebook page.
Though his store has been open for less than a month, Moorhead already has plans for the future. He wants to open a second store soon—this one with fine wines and spirits, as some other franchises have. No word yet on whether you'll be able to sample all of those, though.