Barmy about bal­samic

Geelong Advertiser - - REVIEW / FOOD NEWS -

LEG­ENDARY Ital­ian cook­book au­thor Marcella Hazan took to Face­book when re­cently irked by a food writer’s sug­ges­tion to splash bal­samic vine­gar on freshly picked to­ma­toes.

‘‘There is no taste more ex­cit­ing than that of a good tomato, and some­times you want noth­ing more with it than a pinch of sea salt,’’ she wrote.

And while Hazan notes she oc­ca­sion­ally dresses to­ma­toes with crushed gar­lic, a touch of salt and red wine vine­gar, she wrote: ‘‘Not bal­sam­ico.’’

Bal­samic vine­gar, the sweet-tart gift from Italy, has be­come a go-to condi­ment— show­ing up even in ice-cream.

You’d think peo­ple in Mo­dena, Italy, would be de­lighted we love one of their culi­nary good­ies.

Dos and don’ts

Do: Chop cher­ries and mar­i­nate them in bal­samic vine­gar, then use to brush meat in the fi­nal cook­ing process. Also serve as a side dish to roast or grilled lamb.

Do: Pre­pare a bal­samic vine­gar com­bi­na­tion with greens or stone fruit, adding a lit­tle white pep­per or grated gin­ger, grated le­mon zest and even a touch of spring onions. It’s savoury and sweet, with just enough acid­ity to elon­gate the flavour in your mouth.

Do: Sear a pork fil­let wrapped in ba­con and fin­ish the dish with a com­ple­men­tary bal­samic vine­gar sauce. Wrap the fil­let in the ba­con and sear it. Then take it out of the pan and wrap in foil to keep warm. Add a minced shal­lot and some bal­samic vine­gar to the pan juices, plus a dash of con­cen­trated beef broth and a sprig of thyme. Let flavours sim­mer to­gether a few min­utes. Re­turn the pork to the pan and baste with the bal­samic pan juices be­fore serv­ing. Don’t: Heat bal­samic ex­ces­sively. Don’t: Drench a dish in bal­samic vine­gar. A few drops of ex­tra old bal­samic on a salad or over risotto adds depth and char­ac­ter to the dish with­out be­ing too ob­vi­ous or in­va­sive.

Don’t: Use it in more than one dish at a meal. ‘‘If I am serv­ing one course with bal­samic vine­gar, I keep it to that — never a rep­e­ti­tion of plates us­ing the vine­gar, ’’Hazan says. ‘‘That is, un­less I have an ex­tra-old 30-year bal­samic vine­gar around to sip from a tea­spoon as a di­ges­tive af­ter a meal. You can never over­dose on that elixir.’’

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