Best of the Fancy Food Show 2011: Vinegar?featured
LMS correspondent, Adam Carr, falls for the vinegars at the Fancy Food Show.
When I walked into the Fancy Food Show, I wondered what would impress me the most. I figured it would be something rich and luxurious, or exotic and rare. I had no idea that I would be so impressed by something as seemingly humble as vinegar. Yet here I am, about to ramble on about vinegar. This post is dedicated to those people out there who would take a balsamic bubble bath if such a product was on the market.
- Chaparral Gardens – Artisan Vinegars
- Due Vittorie – Balsamic Vinegars
- O Olive Oil – Pomegranate Champagne Vinegar
1) Chaparral Gardens, Artisan Vinegars
Arguably, my favorite moment at the show was the vinegar tasting from Chaparral Gardens. Eyeing a white table with eight tiny bottles of varying hue, I didn’t know what to expect at first. They didn’t offer dipping bread, or anything to dip for that matter. I felt like I was at a poorly financed college party, taking shots out of tiny paper cups. The result, however, was a deeper appreciation of their product, because there was nothing masking its flavor. I was treated to a series of unique tastes, from the crisp, light peach flavor of their Fuzzy Navel to the distinctive tart-spicy combination of kiwi, ginger, and chili in their Pacific Spice vinegar. I could easy prattle on about how the owners, Cari and Craig Clark, treated me like I was the only one at the show, or how you can buy their vinegars online or at the San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market (a foodie paradise if you like fresh fruit and/or baby back ribs), but I’ll refrain.
2) Due Vittorie, Aged Balsamic Vinegar
I like my balsamic vinegar the way I like my women; roughly my age. So I was delighted to try a 25 year-old balsamic from Italian importer Due Vittorie. I finally understood what people meant when they talked about drizzling balsamic on frozen dessert; because their Riserva di Famiglia packs a combination of sweet and tart that would be perfect on top of a scoop of strawberry ice cream. I also partook in some statutory samplings of a couple of under-18 vinegars. The Riserva Oro had a versatile flavor that would work well in any culinary context, and the Riserva Argento’s light texture and tangy flavor would be perfect for salad dressings.
3) O Olive Oil, Pomegranate Champagne Vinegar
I only tasted a few of O Olive Oil’s vinegars, but that was only because the crowd around the table prevented me from getting a hand in (even with my awkwardly long arms). Their booth was lined with Fancy Food Show Awards, and their reputation is well deserved. Their Pomegranate Champagne Vinegar, made from California pomegranates steeped in barrel-aged champagne, had a light texture and had a delicate tartness that I loved, so much so that I’d consider using it alone as a salad dressing.