Years ago I used balsamic vinegar for marinades and salad dressings, thinking I was a culinary genius (ah, youth). Although I still use what we call balsamic in the U.S. for these same applications, our trip to Italy opened my eyes to true balsamic vinegar. The sweet, tangy, complex, thick syrup garnishing our cheese plate at Ristorante da Simone in Colle Val d’Elsa was unlike anything I had ever experienced from the vinegar family. It was one more aspect of Italy I fell in love with (there were many) and it became our first priority to make sure we had some stashed in our suitcase to bring home.
We’ve tried a number of aged balsamic vinegars since our “enlightenment”, many of them graciously presented as gifts from my foodie friend, Pati. You gotta love friends who speak your food language and generously indulge your taste buds. Her latest deposit in my food-love bank was a beautiful bottle from Migliore Gourmet Foods. It is well named as it is the best aged balsamic we have tried in the states, so thick it requires patience to pour, but worth every drop of anticipation. I cannot imagine ever diluting it in dressings or marinades; it is lick-the-plate good straight up. Don’t worry, no demonstrations accompany this post.
Drizzle it over salad greens, artisan cheese, Caprese salad, Strawberry Bruschetta, ice cream, steak—it takes everything to another level. Speaking of steak, Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese Bruschetta was the highlight of our Valentine menu this year, of course, the balsamic reduction was pure magic. Immediately, we began brainstorming what we might make so we could have it again, share it with friends, and invite everyone we know to try this simple, yet exquisite concoction. Grilled lamb chops will receive a generous application for Easter dinner this weekend, I’ll just have to show some restraint when it comes to licking the plate.
What about you, have you fallen in love with aged balsamic? What’s your favorite way to enjoy it?
Adapted from The Fresh Market
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