Education

Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP: What’s in Your Bottle of Vinegar?

Vecchia Dispensa Balsamic Vinegars

Vinegars from La Vecchia Dispensa

As I mentioned in my prior post, Balsamico Tradizionale offers the best chance to taste some of the purest expression of true balsamic vinegar. One of the reasons for this is the thoughtful regulations governing the production of Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena and Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia, which dictate a range of protections – from the grapes varieties that must be used, to the style of bottle.

Once you move beyond the world of Balsamico Tradizionale into the less controlled world of non-tradizionale balsamics, things get more complicated. Historically, the category of balsamic, balsamico or balsamic vinegar consisted of products with levels of quality all over the map. Some careful producers, employing traditional methods, produced balsamics with beautiful balance and depth of flavor. At the same time, large, industrial producers sold balsamics using inexpensive ingredients and time-saving technologies to maximize profits, capitalizing on the balsamic name. Continue Reading »

Balsamico Tradizionale: True Balsamic Vinegar

The easiest way to introduce the nuances of balsamic vinegar is by taking a look at Balsamico Tradizionale from two small provinces in Italy: Modena and Reggio-Emilia. The highest quality balsamic, representing the purest form of the condiment, is produced only in these two provinces.

Crème de Cassis de Dijon: The Secret to “Kir”

This week we’re highlighting one of our favorite French liqueurs, the inky black currant flavored Crème de Cassis de Dijon. These sweet little bottles of crème de cassis are made in Burgundy by Briottet, a company run by the Briottet family in the town of Dijon since 1836.

Roasting with Barrington Coffee

I recently visited Barrington Coffee at their roastery in Lee, MA, in the heart of the Berkshires. Roastmaster Brian Heck, along with fellow coffee alchemist Paul, guided me through Barrington’s process of coaxing the delicate aromas and fine flavors out of their unroasted, green coffee beans.

Decidedly American Hams: Mangalitsa and Red Wattle

Though Edwards hams have become an icon of the South and its distinctly American food traditions, the family didn’t set out to join the meat business. The company’s founder was a ferry operator, and he began selling his family’s cured ham on sandwiches to hungry travelers. They were a hit, and thus a much tastier business venture was born—thankfully for all of us, I’d say.