Monday, 29 June 2009
I just love Balsamic Vinegar. It's rich and slightly sweet flavour lends itself to all kinds of prepartions . . . wonderful vinaigrettes, delicious sauces . . . beautiful desserts. It's wonderful flavour and heady fragrance lift it far above it's counterparts, which pale in comparison.
Although some may consider it a wine vinegar, it is not a wine vinegar at all, but is created from grape pressings that have never been allowed to ferment into wine. Sweet white Trebbiano grape pressings are boiled down to a dark syrup and then aged under rigid restrictions, in wooden casks made of oak. It ages for years, gradually progressing to smaller and smaller casks made of a variety of woods, until it is finally ready to use.
All of these woods progressively add character to the vinegar. As it ages, moisture evaporates out, further thickening the vinegar and concentrating the flavor. Some of the really good ones have been aged for as long as a hundred years.
Really good Balsamic vinegar doesn't come cheap and no wonder, when you consider how much has gone into it's production. It's a good thing that a little goes a very long way. Sure . . . you can get really cheap Balsamic vinegar, but why settle for a pale imitation of something that is worth it's weight in gold. This is one case where you truly do get what you pay for . . .
I try to settle for something in between the most expensive and the cheapest and it always serves me well, especially in a simple preparation such as this one. Strawberries, simply macerated in some sugar and then some good Balsamic. Heavenly Bliss . . .
It's just amazing how something so simple can taste so wonderful.
*Strawberries With Balsamic Vinegar*
If you are looking for a dessert that is fresh, easy and delicious, then look no further. This tasty dish fills the bill on all counts!
750g of ripe small strawberries
60g of caster sugar (superfine sugar)
2 TBS good quality balsamic vinegar
125g of mascarpone cheese
Wipe the strawberries clean with a damp cloth, and then carefully hull them. If your berries are somewhat on the larger side, cut them in halves or quarters. Place them all into a glass bowl. Sprinkle the caster sugar on top and toss them gently to coat. Let sit, covered loosely with a cloth, for 2 hours to macerate. After 2 hours, drizzle the balsamic vinegar over top. Toss gently again, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Spoon the berries into 4 glass dishes. Drizzle each with some of the syrup left in the bowl. Spoon a dollop of mascarpone cheese on top of each and serve.