Balsamic Vinegar: I’ll Never Get Sick of Her... July 04 2012

I adore balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I feel bad for the other vinegars because they don’t get nearly as much attention. I just love its tangy, pungent sweetness, and I use it in so many different ways- in marinades for meat, vegetables, or fish, reduced into a syrup and poured over ice cream, or my favourite way- splashed on top of fresh strawberries.


Vinegar is an acidic liquid made from fermented ethanol (usually wine, in Mediterranean cooking). Balsamic vinegar, however, is not technically a wine vinegar. It’s made from Trebbiano grape pressings (also known as “must”) that have not yet been aged into wine. The pressings are boiled down and reduced to a syrup, and then slowly aged in a series of different wooden casks, which is what gives balsamic vinegar such a rich, distinct flavour. The longer it ages, the sweeter it tends to taste; in fact, there are some traditional balsamic vinegars that have been aged for as many as 100 years!

La Bottega carries an amazing selection of balsamic vinegars... and I think I have found true love with one of them. Acetaia Picci in Italy is a 17th century courtyard, and it’s also a factory that produces only one product: traditional balsamic vinegar. When you only manufacture one product, it has to be fantastic... and it is. It’s sweeter and has much more character than most other balsamic vinegars that I’ve ever tasted. There’s really nothing like it, and you have to try it (Picci Balsamic Vinegar Maturo, available at La Bottega for $34.99).  


I’m usually a drizzler when it comes to salads, but every now and then I like to shake things up by whipping up some wild balsamic vinaigrette. Homemade is always better, and this recipe is almost as easy as going to the store to pick it up. Dijon mustard is a delicious way to keep the dressing from emulsifying, and the fresh herbs really bring it to life. Of course, the star is the balsamic vinegar, and when you use a product like this one, you can truly taste the difference.


Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

-1/3 cup high quality balsamic vinegar (recommended: Picci Balsamic Vinegar Maturo)

-1 small clove garlic, minced

-1 tbsp dijon mustard

-1 tsp fresh thyme

-salt and pepper, to taste

-1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

-Whisk the vinegar, garlic, dijon, herbs and seasonings until blended.

-Slowly pour in olive oil while whisking.

-Store any unused vinaigrette in a sealed container. 

 Buon appetito!!

 

Lindsay (@Modern_Hostess) is a self-taught chef who has a passion for hosting. In her culinary experiments and musings, she shows that beautiful, flavourful homemade dishes are within everyone’s reach... as long as quality ingredients are used to prepare it. Join her as she peruses the fabulous inventory of La Bottega, and provides tasty ideas for enjoying their finest products.  

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