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Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, strawberries and cream gelato

fragole-con-aceto-balsamico

I don’t know about you, but when Spring arrives, I become lazy (well ..let’s put it this way…I am lazy but I become even lazier!). And yet, I am still that food snob (not foodie please!) who’s willing to travel all the way down from Rome to Modena to get the real deal: Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena -TBVM-, the right name for this luscious, fascinating potion.

When we arrived to Acetaia Opera 02 (Acetaia is the Italian word for vinegar manufacturer), we were kindly greeted by Mr. Enrico Montanari who gave us a tour around the Acetaia and explained us the manufacturing process of the TBVM. From his explanation, we learned the following lessons :

  1. Official name: Known as Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, this product must  have the word “Traditional” on the label, otherwise it is not authentic. It is produced by cooking the grape must, which is aged for at least 12 years in different types of wood barrels.
  2. Grape variety : Trebbiano Modenese.
  3. Production zone: Province of Modena or Reggio Emilia.
  4. Production method: If you are interested, this link gives you a thorough explanation  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Balsamic_Vinegar
  5. Properties: a thick syrup with a sweet flavor, and contrary to popular thinking, it is low in acidity. Its color ranges from yellow/brown to brown/black.
  6. Usage: According to producers, the best parings are with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, beef and strawberries.

fragole-con-balsamico

While Mr. Montanari was talking about food pairings, I was debating on asking him regarding the use of Balsamic Vinegar on salads, and thus I did not want to sound as the typical ignorant person (I was before a connoisseur!!). However, I took courage and threw the question out: “I beg your pardon if I ask you this but, what’s your opinion concerning the use of Balsamic Vinegar as a salad dressing?” He replied: “You wouldn’t waist your Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena on salad, would you? (Consider that 100 ml of goodness starts at 40 euro!!). To my joy (and not only mine), he then added: “However, we do sell what we call “condimento” or condiment/seasoning (dressing a salad in Italian means condire l’insalata); the difference lies in the fact that the condiment is not aged and the production process may include the addition of other ingredients to add thickness such as, starch, fructose syrup, pectins, guar gum, etc.

strawberry-fields-and-balsamic-vinegar

So, whatever concoction that you have probably purchased before is prepared with watery, acidic ingredients- and who knows what else – and  is certainly not Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.

Since I think that using strawberries with Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is the most intriguing of all the pairings proposed while in Modena, I came up with this easy recipe:

Ingredients

  1. strawberries
  2. cream gelato
  3. Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

Preparation

  1. Cut strawberries lengthwise into 4 to 5 pieces.
  2. In a crystal glass or transparent glass (you can even use a wine or martini glass) place strawberries in the bottom and gently pour some Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena on top.
  3. Add cream gelato and gently pour Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena on top.
  4. Continue layering the glass until full.
  5. To finish, fan the strawberry slices out in a circle to form a flower and gently pour Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena on top

Note: Because of the high concentration of grape must in Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, be careful when pouring it over strawberries and gelato; that said, it should not overpower the final taste of this dessert – it should upgrade it!!

eaten-ice-cream

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19 Comments Post a comment
  1. This looks absolutely delicious. Would love to give it a try.

    May 19, 2013
  2. I am very sure that the balsamic we get here is not at all the real thing, it takes years to make, but never mind. Your real balsamic sounds divine and with strawberries must have been positively decadent. Lovely shots too! celi

    May 19, 2013
    • Thank you Celi!!! You are so kind. I guess it might be hard to find. However, I have discovered a new world ordering products online!! Maybe you can find it in an online store!!

      May 19, 2013
      • You are probably right, the little man in his van will deliver almost anything.. and it would be such a treat.. c

        May 19, 2013
  3. LILIANA KAFIE #

    Gisi,
    This looks great!! do you think it would also
    work with frozen yogurt?

    May 19, 2013
    • Hi Lili! Thanx! It could. Just make sure you get very sweet strawberries and plain frozen yogurt (especially the one with less acidity)…the more plain it is, the better!!!

      May 19, 2013
  4. ANA MARIA SANSUR #

    Gisi, me encanta la combinacion. Ya lo voy a hacer! Una pregunta: el sabor del gelato? Es de vainilla?

    May 19, 2013
    • Hola Ani! El sabor del gelato tiene que ser crema porque es el mas neutral. El de vainilla podria no ser el mas adecuado debido a que el sabor de la vainilla cubriria los sabores que queremos que se destaquen: el de las fresas y el del Vinagre Balsamico Tradicional de Modena.

      May 19, 2013
  5. That looks so good! I buy local balsamic vinegar, which is nice in salads and tastes good, but clearly isn’t the real thing like this is.

    May 19, 2013
    • Hi!! Most of us have always bought the commercial Balsamic Vinegar. Even though I have been living in Italy for 13 years, it wasn’t until my visit to Modena that I found out about the real thing..:)

      May 19, 2013
  6. Wonderful post and truly fabulous pictures. Wish I’d done them.

    May 20, 2013
    • Thank you Roger!! I’d wish you were here with us having that dessert!!

      May 20, 2013
  7. What a great, informative post, Ambrosiana. Your photography was stunning. Well done!

    May 21, 2013
    • Thank you John! It was indeed very informative for us. Consider that before this trip, I thought that the right name was Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. I never thought that the word “traditional” was a must.

      May 23, 2013
  8. Souds beautiful and I have been lucky enough to try the real thing…a very special long ago treat! Love that last shot….beautiful!

    May 21, 2013
    • Thank you so much Chica! I bet you have!! It was actually my first time, and once you try it, it is hard to go back….:)

      May 23, 2013
  9. Lovely dessert and photos. I have a bottle of traditional balsamic from our trip to Reggio Emilio year before last that I treat like gold…it is thick and delicious.

    May 27, 2013
  10. I love TBVM. I’ve got several bottles at home… they vary in terms of quality and I choose carefully as to which bottle I’ll use for each dish! This dessert looks amazing. Your photography makes me want to dive into the screen to eat every drop! Thanks so much for the information and the beautiful recipe. I can’t wait to try it xx

    June 6, 2013

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