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I've tried several different brands of Balsamic Vinegars from many different specialty gourmet stores and from some delis. Each has its own flavor and consistency, much like fine wine. Some good, some bad. What's your favorite brand of Balsamic Vinegar and why? What is your favorite use for it?
 

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mmmm just posted this in the rib eye thread...

Hands down the best Balsamic is Tipo Qualita imported from Modena. It aint cheap at $15 for 12 oz, but soooo delicious, and syrupy. Very sweet. First time I had it it was dousing a grilled chicken, fresh mozz and tomato hero on brick over bread, but I use it in everything from salads to tuna fish.
 

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mmmm just posted this in the rib eye thread...

Hands down the best Balsamic is Tipo Qualita imported from Modena. It aint cheap at $15 for 12 oz, but soooo delicious, and syrupy. Very sweet. First time I had it it was dousing a grilled chicken, fresh mozz and tomato hero on brick over bread, but I use it in everything from salads to tuna fish.
Hate to burst your bubble but $15 for 12oz. IS cheap! Average stuff is going to be $30-$40 for around 8oz. Really GOOD balsamics can be in excess of $90 for 4oz.

Tipo Qualita roughly translates as Type Quality. Either you are missing some of the name or you have something that is the sartorical equivelant of genuine leather. :eek: Look for something that is aged 20 years or more and has Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena on the bottle. This will make sure that it isn't just an industrial vinegar that has syrup and caramel colring added. You use the good stuff by the DROP and will be amazed at the difference. Be daring, take the leap from RTW to bespoke as it were! ;)
 

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I don't know much about balsamic, but my dad is a big collector. His love of wine rubbed off on me, but I haven't picked up on the vinegar yet. Most of his are 4 oz. bottles, with several of them over $100. I'll have to ask him on Sunday what is his favorite. I remember one time when I was 15 or so, he let me eat ice cream with the balsamic on top. I recall not even being able to tell it was vinegar, tasted just like syrup.
 

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There really are several different products that fall under the name of balsamic vinegar. I won't bother with a thesis on the subject, I'm no expert and it would just be cut and paste anyway :)

But generally, the good stuff (the little expensive bottles) is like a syrup and used in very small portions on grilled meats, parmigiano reggiano, vanilla ice cream and strawberries. When used properly a little goes a long way, and a bottle will last a while. I was lucky and scored both a 12 and 30 year Leonardi from ebay for less than 1/2 of retail a few years ago and am still working on them. (ok, I killed the 12 a while ago)

The process to produce vinegar like this is labor and time intensive, hence the price.

There are also a number of good balsamics that are natural products but don't go through the effort as the traditional balsamic. Often 15-40 dollars they are less viscous and taste more like vinegar, but will have individual character and can be quite good. Excellent for salads and used as dressing.

The rest of the stuff is pretty bad. Usually artifically colored and pretty much a manufactured product I'd almost rather use a good red wine vinegar. Taste a typical grocery store balsamic next to a good quality (not the really good stuff) balsamic. One will taste like chemicals while the other will taste like good vinegar. You'll never buy the cheap stuff again.

If you have a good cheese shop or gourmet food store around, they might have a vinegar (or olive oil) tasting on the calendar. If you like food it's probably worth the time.

Next I can tell you about all the super tuscan olive oil I found at TJMaxx!

-spence
 
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