Evidence I’m a total food nerd: I make my way, still bleary-eyed, to work. My mood skyrockets from sluggish-sleepy to jazzed. What’s up? Our 4 new vinegars, all lined up in a row and waiting to be tasted. Oh man, I’m in for a treat.
I start with LAMBRUSCO VINEGAR because I have a thing for Lambrusco, the fizzy red wine that imparts fabulousness into any picnic, or day on the beach. The Italian lambrusco grape grows only in the southern tier of Lombardy, parts of Emilia Romagna and Veneto. Oceans of not-very-good Lambrusco wine were imported into the USA in the ‘70s and ‘80s. In fact, it was the biggest-selling imported wine for years. After a decade-long wane, lambrusco has once again become very fashionable, but this time it’s a high-quality wine, and the zest for the fizzy, foamy, slightly sweet red stuff has become a serious vogue.
Our Lambrusco vinegar is at once sour-sharp and swooningly sweet. “Like Manischewitz,” Lori chimes in. Has that bit of fizz, and that touch of berry. But it’s got a million times more bite and personality than Manischewitz, and its effect upon salads is nothing short of magical.
Moving on: my restaurant days introduced me to WHITE BALSAMIC. Its a chefy favorite, because foods get imparted with remarkable flavor without being “stained” brown. Our white balsamic is a stunner. It’s aged in antique wooden barrels and erupting with bright, deep balsamic flavor. As we speak, white balsamic is lending its magic to a bowl of fresh figs and blackberries, which are in my fridge drinking in a bit of brown sugar and a big glug of white balsam.
Another great addition to our lineup–our ‘MID-RANGE’ BALSAMIC. Simply a really good balsamic vinegar and everything that entails—lush viscosity, depth, and wonderful sweetness. Its aged in wooden casks for a decade, as it’s been done for centuries. Perfect to use as a ready-made sauce or marinade, or whip up a serious vinaigrette. Local beefsteak tomatoes are on our shelves right now, and they transform from delicious to otherworldly with a balsamic drizzle.
I’m saving my favorite for last, which is our SABA. It took my breath away. I got a great saba lesson from Steve, so I’m passing it along:
“Saba (or ‘vincotto’, or ‘mosto cotto’) was handed down from medieval times in Central Italy, Emilia Romagna. It was the original sweetener used by the masses who had neither access to nor means to acquire cane sugar. Saba came about via the long, slow-cooking of the liquid accrued from re-pressing the detritus from crushed wine grapes.
“The result is a deep, dark, thickish, intensely sweet substance billowing with nuance that immediately found favor among the Italian people of these early days who hungered for an ingredient with which to make pastries and other dishes requiring a sweetener. We love to use saba as did they: As a key ingredient to give stews and sauces a deeper and more complex flavor, as a de-glazing medium to pour over scallops and other seafood, chicken, duck, veal and lamb, as a digestif beverage with sparkling water and ice, as a sauce for sorbets and ice cream.”
Thank you, new vins, for waking me up and making me psyched to start my day. They’re a quick fix for making any dish sing.