Author Topic: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?  (Read 4741 times)

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Mental Magpie

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Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« on: April 18, 2012, 02:07:00 AM »
I tried searching on the internet, but I had no idea how to word it in a search engine.

You know in Italian restaurants when they bring out the bread with oil?  What is the brown stuff?  It has a vinegar taste to me, but there is something else there, too.  Can I make it at home or do I have to just buy it?  Does anyone have any recipes? 
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MariaE

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2012, 02:12:39 AM »
Balsamic Vinegar - also sometimes called red wine vinegar, but I don't know if that's accurate.

AFAIK it has to be bought. I've never heard of recipes for it. Most supermarkets that I've been to have had it though - it seems to be fairly common.
 
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AustenFan

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2012, 02:18:16 AM »
It's super cheap to buy and lasts forever. You can use it to make marinades and salad dressings, and can get flavoured varieties.

Mental Magpie

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2012, 02:19:17 AM »
Balsamic Vinegar - also sometimes called red wine vinegar, but I don't know if that's accurate.

AFAIK it has to be bought. I've never heard of recipes for it. Most supermarkets that I've been to have had it though - it seems to be fairly common.

Is it really?  I LOVE Balsamic Vinegar; I'm disappointed I didn't recognize it, but that could have been the oil and parmesan masking it.  Just so happens I have some on my shelf, and now we all know what I'm having with dinner tomorrow night.

ETA:  Thank you both!  The reason I have a bottle is because I did make dressing with it once :D
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Bluenomi

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2012, 02:54:30 AM »
Balsamic Vinegar - also sometimes called red wine vinegar, but I don't know if that's accurate.

Balsamic and red wine vinegar are different things. Balsamic is much stronger and darker and not made from red wine unlike red wine vinegar  :D

MariaE

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2012, 03:30:09 AM »
Balsamic Vinegar - also sometimes called red wine vinegar, but I don't know if that's accurate.

Balsamic and red wine vinegar are different things. Balsamic is much stronger and darker and not made from red wine unlike red wine vinegar  :D

Thank you :) I didn't think they were the same thing, but I've heard people claim that they were, and I'm not enough of a connoisseur myself to be able to say for sure.
 
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sparksals

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2012, 03:53:26 PM »
True balsamic is very expensive.  I just took a class on balsemic and reggiano cheese.  The stuff you get at the grocery is a much cheaper version of the real stuff.  I bought some after the bacon-fed knave that was $50 per bottle.  Believe it or not, there is stuff quadruple that.   Special treat to drizzle on asparagus. 

The process making balsemic is very in-depth and inlybcertain batches get the designation from the area. I think some balsamic takes 18 years to brew. 

I get a decent basic balsamic at Costco. Lasts me forevet.  Until I tool the class, I had no idea the strungent process of the true Balsamic. 

sparksals

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2012, 03:55:57 PM »
Ps...if you watch diners, drive ins and dives, Brodeurs is where I took the class.  The wine, balsamic and reggiano cheeses were amazing.  Reggiano AKA parmesan also has strict guidelines for the good stuff. 

Mental Magpie

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2012, 03:57:24 PM »
You've piqued my curiosity, I must now go investigate the balsamic making process.
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jmarvellous

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2012, 04:03:38 PM »
Balsamic is good even when it's not the truly fancy stuff. But the truly fancy stuff is magnificent. Sort of like olive oil, its culinary BFF, actually!

I like to reduce balsamic (basically cook it down until it gets thick and syrupy -- don't do it on too high of heat or it'll burn; you can add things like lemon or orange juice or a bit of olive oil to it to make it more complex) and use it a sauce on things like beets or salads or desserts like strawberries and vanilla ice cream. It gets even sweeter as it cooks down.

Shoo

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2012, 04:06:50 PM »
I buy the mid-priced balsamic vinegar at my local grocery store, and it's quite good.  Now I'm wondering how fantastic the REALLY good stuff is!

Fresh ground black pepper (and lots of it) piled on the olive oil is also nice.

lowspark

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2012, 04:08:59 PM »
I buy the mid-priced balsamic vinegar at my local grocery store, and it's quite good.  Now I'm wondering how fantastic the REALLY good stuff is!

Fresh ground black pepper (and lots of it) piled on the olive oil is also nice.

Me too. I love the stuff and use it a lot so it would probably send me to the poor house if I bought as much of the super expensive stuff.

ydpubs

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2012, 04:46:59 PM »
Yeah, the real deal is terrifyingly expensive.

They are aged in casks for decades and decades, moved to increasingly smaller casks as the volume reduces. The minimum time is 12 years, but the longer it has aged, the more expensive.

The consistency is like heavy syrup and a very small bottle can easily be $1000.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2012, 04:48:56 PM by ydpubs »
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artk2002

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2012, 07:34:40 PM »
Although it can be expensive, $1000 for a small bottle is something I've never, ever seen. The most expensive bottle at a (fairly) expensive restaurant supply is about $40US for 8.5oz.  You can get some very nice balsamic vinegar for far less than that ($9.50US for 250ml.)
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sweetonsno

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Re: Italian Restaurants, Bread, Oil, and ?
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2012, 01:10:03 AM »
Although it can be expensive, $1000 for a small bottle is something I've never, ever seen. The most expensive bottle at a (fairly) expensive restaurant supply is about $40US for 8.5oz.  You can get some very nice balsamic vinegar for far less than that ($9.50US for 250ml.)

Believe it or not, some really old balsamic vinegars are quite pricey. Heck, even ones that are "young" (25 years or less) can cost a hundred bucks an ounce.

Depending on where you are, the price can go up even more. Here's a blog entry from a person living in Kuwait. If I've done the math right, the vinegar in question would cost almost 9 grand. http://248am.com/mark/kuwait/balsamic-vinegar/

(Granted, this is in Kuwait and the vinegar is apparently 300 years old.)