Thought I'd share with you some ingredients I couldn't do without in my kitchen. This week it is Vinegar. I have specified a brand (no I'm not paid to do so, I just love this particular one)
Name Federzoni Elsa Balsamic
Producer Monari Federzoni
Vinegar and mulled wine (Balsamic vinegar from Modena is derived from mulled wine) have been the leading unifying elements in Italian cuisine since the time of the ancient Romans. Historically, some evidence suggests that Balsamic Vinegar, or one of its close cousins, was used as early as the period of the Gallic Invasions of Julius Caesar. Definitive evidence however traces it back to the 1300’s.
In the Modena area, special vinegars have been produced for centuries, the environmental conditions (terrain, climate) and the grape species are ideal for this type of product. The qualifier "balsamic" comes from the ancient habit of using it as a medicine and remedy for various complaints, and during the plague of the 1600s, it was also used as a disinfectant. During the Estense Family’s rule, the batteries of balsamic vinegar of Modena were left as dowries to the daughters of patrician or upper middle class families. Through the generations, the "secret of the vinegar" was closely guarded to avoid the corruption of a valuable product, which was used principally for holidays, gifts, and special occasions.
In more recent times, it has become a very commercial product. Numerous production companies were born, and in the 1960’s, they were awarded the first ministerial licenses. The first company to obtain this official recognition was Monari Federzoni.
The package of the Elsa Aged balsamic is painstakingly crafted in every detail and sealed with wax, and contains another product of the Elsa farm. This quality of balsamic vinegar of Modena is called "riserva" (reserve) to highlight its unique flavours and components, which are obtained using choice grapes. Aging always lasts over three years, and the flavours and aroma typical of high quality aging develop during this period of "forced rest". Its characteristics make it ideal for use on hot dishes with assertive flavours, or as a seasoning for cooking sauces or dressings.