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Superior Vinegars


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During the Guy Gateau Q & A, John Whiting commented that

Balsamic vinegar is the ketchup of the hip.

So what are some of your favorite vinegars and how do you use them to best effect? Red, white, rice, others? Are there on-line purveyors who specialize in vinegars? Or do you make your own?

I recently picked up a couple of vinegars that I liked after tasting them at William-Sonoma. One is Vilux, a French Cognac Vinegar. The other is a Jose de Soto, a Spanish Sherry Vinegar.

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Caroliva 12 Year Reserve Sherry Vinegar (Jerez) from Surlatablecom is exceptionally well-flavored and I have used it in summery, peppery salads to good advantage.

Additionally, I have purchased some very unusual vinegars from (where else?) Dean and Deluca:

Dean and Deluca Gourmet Vinegar line

Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Oooah, great thread. Oil gets all the attention. :huh:

Vinaigre de Banyuls (La Cave De L'Abbe Rous) is a current favorite. I use it mostly in cooking. gastriques, deglazing where you want that fruity element.

Sherry wine vinegar is more versatile, and I often use it in both soups and salads when I want a distinctive flavor (as in arugula, pear, walnut, stilton salad). I sometimes have more than one open at a time. Right now I' working on a Jerez vinegar (Finca El Retamar). I also like that Pommery Sherry Vinegar in the ceramic bottle (when I can find it) which is great in pureed vegetable soups.

I've yet to find a red wine vinegar I really like as they typically have too much bite. Perhaps I should look into making one? Or, suggestions?

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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Oooah, great thread.  Oil gets all the attention.   :huh:

I've yet to find a red wine vinegar I really like as they typically have too much bite. Perhaps I should look into making one? Or, suggestions?

I have bought and enjoyed using this red wine vinegar: Volpaia Red Wine Vinegar

this vinegar

Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I don't know how easy it will be to find for those of you in Northern Climes, but this stuff makes awesome vinegar for salad dressing. It is particularly delicious in Poppyseed Dressing and vinagarettes-

Steen's Pure Cane Vinegar

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I also like that Pommery Sherry Vinegar in the ceramic bottle (when I can find it) which is great in pureed vegetable soups.

I stumbled across a bottle of that this past year crazy cheap - can't recall where. Bought ti not knowing what I'd use it for but I really like it. Balsamic vinegar may be trendy but the good quality balsamic is just so damn versatile that it's timeless. I do agree that it's become a bit overused in trendy restaurants and migrated into dishes where it does not rightly belong.

I suppose Maille is so mainstream a brand as to lack cachet for some gourmands but I absolutely love their red cider vinegar. I ran out, went looking for some, and discovered that my local Wegman's does not stock it. Can't even recall where I bought it and all they had was cheap store brand cider vinegar so I bought some

Cuisine Perel Blood Orange Vinegar

It's tasty enough but looking at the label prompts me to think that it would be pretty darn easy to make a vinegar like this at home. It contains

Orange juice

White wine vinegar

White grape juice

Cider vinegar

Natural orange extract

Annatto

How tough could it be? I can't find a thread on making your own so I guess I'd better start one....

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I've yet to find a red wine vinegar I really like as they typically have too much bite. Perhaps I should look into making one? Or, suggestions?

I make my own, and I love it - in fact, I have to admit it is my favorite by a pretty long chalk. It does have a lot of bite, but I guess that's one of the things I like about it. OTOH, when I want something milder and smoother and more refined... well, guess what - it seems The Boy can teach me a thing or two.

When I started spending a lot of time up at his house in CT, the first thing I did (of course) was stock his pantry with some of the stuff I like to have around when I cook; and before anything else this meant ingredients for a good vinaigrette. Colman's Dry Mustard; Tellicherry Pepper; a piece of my vinegar mother, and instructions on its care and feeding. (He already had good olive oil, I'll say that for him. :wink: ) Next thing I know, we've created a monster: in no time at all, it seems, he had that mother multiplying like crazy in a huge jar containing about a gallon of first-class red wine vinegar, and he was hunting up decorative bottles for Christmas presents. Enterprising fellow.

Anyway, one day he came up to me with two liqueur glasses, in each of which was a small amount of ruby/amber liquid. "Taste," said he. I tasted. One was a very, very good vinegar. The other was the smoothest, most delicate vinegar I'd ever tasted. And it turned out that the first was some fancy-schmancy brand that someone had given him, but the second was our own vinegar from the mother, which he had then triple-filtered. I'm no chemist, so I don't know exactly what effect the filtering had (other than to eliminate the visible particles of mother) - and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that the taste was at least partly attributable to his having fed it with better-quality dregs than I usually give mine - but that vinegar was so good, and it went down so smooth, I finished the glass, neat.

This mother has been going for about 30 years in my family. I don't know where we got it originally - Sylvia Weinstock, maybe? - but it's never failed me. We had a white one going too, but that was feeble by comparison and I'm afraid I finally let it die out, since the red was the one I really used. And used and used and used and used. And still use.

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How tough could it be? I can't find a thread on making your own so I guess I'd better start one....

Please do so, kind sir. I have a lot of questions and am in search of that mild fruity stuff (pineapple?) that you get in southern Mexico.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Cuisine Perel Blood Orange Vinegar

It's tasty enough but looking at the label prompts me to think that it would be pretty darn easy to make a vinegar like this at home. It contains

Orange juice

White wine vinegar

White grape juice

Cider vinegar

Natural orange extract

Annatto

How tough could it be? I can't find a thread on making your own so I guess I'd better start one....

This sounds similar to the Orange Muscat vinegar from Trader Joes. I just had a shaved fennel salad with this vinegar and hazelnut oil - yummy!

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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Vinegars...aah, I love 'em. I try every kind I come across. I am going to get some Steen's now, and see if it is like my sarap-asim cane sugar vinegar. Black fig vinegar is great. I think an apricot would make a goooood vinegar.

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I've been using the Blood Orange vinegar for about a week now and it's great - very versatile. I'm inclined to try mxing some of my own because this product is NOT a vinegar made from blood orange juice. Uh uh. It's a good quality white wine and cider vinegar that is flavored with blood orange juice. I usually mix in a but of fresh thyme, some white pepper, sea salt and a dash of fruit juice for extra sweetness. Just a miniscule amount of oil is needed in order for the dressing to cling more easily to the greens. Very good.

I realize that soem killer stuff can likely eb had by making my won from scracth from any number of different fruits but I'll start with mixing and blending a few and then post my results on a separate thread.

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Three of my faves, with favorite combos:

Jerez, for a Jerez beurre blanc with lobster; apfel balsam essig (apple balsam vinegar, gotten from an open air market in Salzburg), for a riesling and vinegar-braised green cabbage with bacon and beautiful, blade-end Berkshire loin roast; rice wine vinegar for a million things, off the top a red pepper coulis for whitefish or delicately flavored fish. Oh, and a workhorse zinfandel vinegar - from Wolfgang Puck's idea, a good shiraz or zinfandel mixed with a good red wine vinegar, to mute the bite and bring up the complexity a bit. For a good many vinaigrettes.

Paul

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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Chinese black rice vinegar is amazingly complex - also very cheap from chinese supermarkets. Probably not what I'd use for my vinaigrette though!

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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  • 1 month later...
I've yet to find a red wine vinegar I really like as they typically have too much bite. Perhaps I should look into making one? Or, suggestions?

l'Estornel (a Spanish brand) makes an outstanding red wine vinegar -- it's a varietal made from 100% Garnacha (Grenache) wine from the Priorato region. All I have to do is wave an open bottle under my customers' noses and...sold! Just a few drops turns a plain vinaigrette into something aromatic and vibrant. Just to get an idea of price: A 375ml bottle retails for $8.99 in my store.

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I've been using a Champagne/Walnut vinegar from W-S for my arugula/walnut/ blue cheese salad, and it's really nice - almost buttery.

Stop Family Violence

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I have a couple of balsamic vinegars that I have used and liked. Not terribly expensive, moderately priced, no more than 20.00.

It is okay, but I really have not found that it made a huge difference in most foods. There are a couple of applications that the balsamic works better than others. Perhaps I have not tasted the really good stuff.

I have one tiny bottle that has never been opened. My boss brought it back from Italy a couple of years ago when he and his four brothers visited their parent's homeland.

This one is in a fancy box, has a Murano glass dropper and I have been reluctant to open it.

Saving it for a special occasion. I do not read Italian so can't tell what it says on the bottle, on the box it says Acetaia Malpighi "Riserva Ciliegio" 50 years.

I have two sherry vinegars, Columelo and Don Bruno. Neither very expensive.

I also had one in a crockery bottle (do not recall the name) that I found in Marshall's dept store. Very cheap. I often cruise Marshall's and TJMaxx 'kitchen' section. They often have great buys on fancy jams, syrups, condiments. I bought a large crock of Herbs de Provence (five times the size of the little ones usually seen) for 7.99.

I have cane syrup vinegar, it may be the Steen's mentioned above.

I have three carboys of homemade vinegar, red and white wines. One made from Blackthorne ale. My mothers are not as long-lived as balmagowry's, but they have been around since shortly after I moved here in '88. The ale vinegar is only 6 years old.

From the Phillipine market I have coconut, palm and pineapple vinegars as well as two kinds of rice vinegar. A few years ago I had a banana vinegar that was very strongly flavored.

I have a very nice Plum wine vinegar from Japan, and a blackcurrant vinegar from Poland that I bought at a shop in the L.A,. Farmer's Market. The shop carries hundreds of hot sauces plus a few other condiments.

I had never before heard of vinegar made from blackcurrants - it is very good. I drank some diluted with a spritz of soda water. reminded me of lemonade.

I also bought a mango vinegar at the same store, used it up in short order over fruit salads.

It was very, very good.

I have an apple cider vinegar from the health food store made by Bragg. It is raw, unfiltered and contains the mother.

For pickling I have a distilled vinegar because the higher acidity produces a crisper pickle.

I also have a champagne vinegar someone gave me for Christmas last year. Never opened.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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sounds odd, but tastes good, I use kombucha vinegar, mum brews her own kombucha tea, if you use it quickly it's sweet and fruity but if you let the mother steep in it longer you get a vinegar, also fruity but really sharp too...

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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My preferred is red wine vinegar by "Ardoino", a producer of excellent EVOO from the Ligurian coast. I had to buy it in Italy, because all space in the stores is occupied by Balsamico, which I like, but only on rare occasions.

The 0.5 liter at $3, I bought a dozen of bottles. It 's gettin "tired" over years and I love that.

Sometimes I blend my vinegar with Jerez vinegar and a little bit of water.

Several years ago, I had my vine vinegar from a little Italian fruit and veggie importer. No name and at $2 per bottle, it was really delicious and an incredible bargain.

The best I ever had was a direct import from a traditional, luxury Italian restaurant, where the owner and my parents had been friends.

After dinner, sometimes they filled a wine bottle with this vinegar and gave it to us. So we left the restaurant with one or two wine bottles under the arm. You can imagine the strange smile people had when seeing us in the tramway with those bottles in our hands. But the vinegar was really divine.

I made several blind tastings with wine vinegar and found price and quality pretty uncorrelating.

My 2 c.

Edited by Boris_A (log)

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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I don't necessarily agree with Whiting, but I understand his comment all too well. The ubiquity of it has really diminished my enjoyment of it. There's a bit of the "oh no, not that flavor again," that has all but made me defensive about ordering a dish with balsamic vinegar in the description or using it at home. I'm a bit tired of seeing it on NY menus, but have even less interest in seeing in on menus in France and Spain. Experiencing the same fads worldwide just seems to suck part of the enjoyment out of travel. I suppose I'd not feel that way about running into balsamic vinegar in Italy though. The best we've ever bought is maybe 8 to 12 year old Giusti. We currently have a quarter liter bottle of something else that someone brought as a present.

I happen to like a simple white wine vinegar, but my wife finds them all too sharp and otherwise tasteless. I'm not even sure if we have one on the shelf right now. The vinegar of choice lately has been from Jerez. Pickings are slim and we use whatever brand we find when we're running low. Right now that's a L'Estornell brand that advertises "Reserva" and Solera" on the label. It's made from the Palomino Fino grape. I liked the previous one better, but now forget the brand.

Since we haven't found that great a selection in NY, on our last trip to Spain, we picked up a selection of vinegars. One bottle came from a supermarket. The other two from a specialty olive oil shop in an upscale neighborhood in Madrid. The selection of olive oils is great in NY and we already had too many oils at home. Without a tasting, we based on selection on the names of wine makers we knew. One was a Lustau Jerez Solera 1/24. The other two are from Alvear, a wine maker in Montilla, north of Cordoba where they make sherry-like wines. One bottle from Alvear says Vinagre de Solera, the other Vinagre de Pedro Ximénez semi-seco Solera 10. It will be a while before either gets opened although I suppose I will have at least two open at the same time to make some comparison.

We also have a bottle of Chinese black vinegar in the house, but we use that almost exclusively for a dipping sauce for Chinese dumplings which we buy frozen at one of several butcher shops near us in Chinatown.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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sounds odd, but tastes good, I use kombucha vinegar, mum brews her own kombucha tea, if you use it quickly it's sweet and fruity but if you let the mother steep in it longer you get a vinegar, also fruity but really sharp too...

Aha! I was wondering about that. I'm on the lookout for a kombucha mother, and was rather surprised that a search for "kombucha" on eGullet, a couple of days ago, produced exactly ONE hit. Now there'll be three, heh heh. Can you make it four and give me suggestions? I've found lists on-line, but I think I'd rather get one from someone I "know." And lest this appear to be OT - yes I'm interested in the kombucha itself, but the minute I read about it I also wanted to try it as vinegar.

As for me, I've probably already mentioned it up-thread, but my vinegar of choice remains my own home-made red wine vinegar. It's a bit rough, but I like it that way - usually I don't even bother with aging and filtering, though when I do I get a lovely smooth result, almost drinkable. I also make an herb-infused vinegar called "Arf!" - rosemary, garlic, tarragon in generic cider vinegar - over time it mellows nicely and tastes a lot fancier than you might expect, given its humble origins.

EDIT: Ah yes, I see I did indeed mention it upthread. BTW, anybody wants a god red vinegar mother, I've never mailed one before but would be glad to attempt it.

Edited by balmagowry (log)
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sounds odd, but tastes good, I use kombucha vinegar, mum brews her own kombucha tea, if you use it quickly it's sweet and fruity but if you let the mother steep in it longer you get a vinegar, also fruity but really sharp too...

I'm on the lookout for a kombucha mother, and was rather surprised that a search for "kombucha" on eGullet, a couple of days ago, produced exactly ONE hit. Now there'll be three, heh heh. Can you make it four and give me suggestions?

I've got quite a few mothers lying in our fridge, I can certainly try mailing you one, if sourdough starters can make it through customs I expect vinegar mothers can...

pm with your addy and I'll find some ziploc bags...

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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Vinegar isn't a big ingredient in Indian cooking, apart from Goan and (to a lesser extent) Parsi cooking and in pickles, but there is one outstanding vinegar made here - sugarcane vinegar made in Navsari, to the north of Bombay. The best known firm is Kolah's, an old Parsi company, that has been making it for ages, and its a rich and complex product, black and with molasses overtones. Its an absolute must for making the fruity Parsi pickles and either you get Kolah's to ship it to you in sealed plastic pouches, or there are just a few shops in Bombay (Motilal Masalawala being the best known) which stock it. Anyone passing through should try and get it,

Vikram

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I think we have more types of vinegar in our cupboard then oil. We have Swan coconut vinegar, Koon Chun Chinkiang vinegar, Chinese white rice vinegar whose brand name I'm blanking on but it's our favorite, seasoned rice vinegar for sushi rice, Aceto Cesare, Aceto di Arneis, Aceto di Barolo and Aceto di Moscato (all from Piedmont), Sanchez Romate Hnos sherry vinegar, apple cider vinegar that I made + its mother, plain old white vinegar in a gallon jug, my mum's homemade blackberry vinegar, a little tiny bit of my dad's homemade raspberry vinegar, and a couple of bottles of balsamico which I was given as gifts but I haven't even opened yet because it's not my favorite kind. I heart vinegar.

regards,

trillium

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