Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Minus 8 Vinegar
We actually bought this stuff a year ago. A relative had given us a gift certificate to a (then) local gourmet shop, and we bought a bottle of Minus 8 vinegar, along with a few other vinegars. The idea was that we would do a vinegar taste test. In particular, I was looking for a passable "balsamic" vinegar that didn't cost an arm and a leg. This week we finally got around to doing it.
We cooked up a batch of rice to clean our mouths between times, and put out our collection of vinegars. The results were mostly somewhat depressing, although not surprising. The corelation between price and quality was absolute. I won't comment* on any but the Minus 8, since it was the only one produced in Ontario, or even Canada.
There's a lot of hype out there about this stuff, but frighteningly, it's deserved. We made the mistake of trying it early in the testing, and after that everything tasted thin and flat by comparison. They say you can drink this vinegar, and they aren't kidding. I had my little lick and just about floated off my chair. More, more, more!
I restrained myself. After all, we paid $30 for a tiny 100 ml bottle, which seems to be the standard price. And at that price, I won't be sloshing it over just any old salad. It will get drizzled over grilled chicken or fish, strawberries, broiled peaches, or other places where it can be distinctly tasted.
I'm not a wine drinker, so I'm not even going to try to use wine terminology that I don't know. But I will say that this vinegar still maintains a wine-like character. It's sweet, grapey and fragrant, complex and lingering compared to any of the other vinegars we tried.
You will likely find it in various gourmet shops, or it can be ordered directly over the internet. The producers are rather secretive about the whole process, which adds, I suppose, to the mystique, but means there isn't much more for me to say.
*Well okay, I will just mention that the bottle of Sotaroni Vinagre de Vino Balsamico Pedro Ximenez, aged for 12 years in oak barrels, at $17.00 for 375 ml was passable, and will do for everyday "balsamic" vinegar use. Spanish, not Italian, which may be why the price was reasonably reasonable for something aged 12 years.