Balsamic vinegar – nectar of the gods!
As a lover of Italian cuisine, I was excited to see what the Festival Italiano had in store for me. I wasn’t disappointed.
There were several lovely discoveries, including a locally made version of one of my favourite tipples (Aperol spritz), marvellous ceramics and other crafts, and an importer of Aceto Balsamico di Modena (that’s balsamic vinegar to you and I).
Now, if you’ve tasted balsamic vinegar in the supermarket, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about. In fact, there’s no control over use of the name ‘balsamic vinegar’, leading to all sorts of travesties.
My dear friend Maurizio of Bosco del Fracasso farmstay near Modena was kind enough to give me the tour of his balsamic vinegar making facility a few months ago (see pic). Maurizio is actually a judge of balsamic vinegar, so it was quite a privilege. Needless to say, I learnt what balsamic vinegar really ought to be – and fell head over heels in love with it. Sadly, the 10-year-old plus vinegar is not something mere mortals could buy every day. But it is one of those things you’ve just got to try once before you die. (Life lesson: if you’re planning to make great vinegar some day, start now!)
I won’t repeat here just why it’s so amazing, because the importer at the Festival Italiano – Aceto Downunder – has a great explanation on their website.
Aceto Downunder is the real deal – the good stuff, imported from Modena. They also have a nice range of “Balsamic creams” – which appear to be what I would call a balsamic reduction, so thicker and stickier than vinegar. This is the really glamorous looking black stuff they squiggle over your salad in posh restaurants.
Aceto Downunder can be found at the French market in Parnell and a range of delis around the North Island, or you can purchase online.