MONTREAL - That more than 225 copies of At Home With Maria Loggia, the long-awaited first cookbook by the wildly popular Hudson cooking teacher, were snapped up in less than two hours at the book’s Montreal launch a couple of weeks ago says something.
That many of the people who bought the books were her students, and that they stood in line holding piles of five or six copies to be signed by her, says more.
And that some in the crowd at the happening event, held at the San Lorenzo restaurant in Little Italy, had come in from as far as Ottawa to be there, says even more.
Insalata di tonno e Cannellini (Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad) makes a wonderful light meal. White navy beans can be substituted for the cannellini beans. Buy the tuna in jars packed in olive oil.
Loggia, 47, is one of the warmest and most genuine people one could hope to meet, her students say. Every so often at the launch, she’d get up from signing flyleaves and envelop the person standing before her in a bear hug. It’s fun to watch her in action.
She has a smile as broad as the outdoors and a passion for Italian cooking to match – Italian cooking defined by the freshest and best seasonal ingredients and by uncomplicated, honest recipes in which those ingredients shine. It’s a passion she shares with her students at the Tavola Mia cooking school, many of whom sign up for her classes again and again.
“Maria just opened up a whole new world for me, of food and how important it is to have everything fresh,” said Montrealer Teresa Cobrin, a longtime student. “Everything I buy now is fresh, from the market, the best I can afford – and she instilled that in me.”
At Home with Maria Loggia (Cardinal Publishers, $34.95), published simultaneously in a French translation as Cuisinez avec Maria Loggia, features recipes for close to 60 dishes, from appetizers to desserts, antipasti to dolci.
Loggia chose family favourites or favourites of friends and students to include, and the book is illustrated with wonderful colour photographs of the dishes and of the Loggia clan – there’s Maria, husband Gino, and their children: Ilana, Michael and Luca – taken at home last year.
It’s a delightful volume, a treat for the eyes and the soul – with sweet asides about how much Michael loves olives or how mozzarella and tomato are two of Ilana’s favourite ingredients, along with practical advice for stocking a pantry properly and recommendations about produce and cooking billed as consigli di cucina, or cook’s advice.
“Welcome to my home,” Loggia writes. “Benvenuto a casa mia. Home is where I belong and connect more closely with the people I love.” Home is also where she works.
Tavola mia is Italian for my table; students learn in Loggia’s kitchen and eat at her table, on dishes she designs and paints herself:
Home is an inviting and bucolic place, with a warm country-style kitchen and lush flower, vegetable, herb and fruit gardens in their glory in summer, a backyard patio and an outdoor pizza oven. Fifty-odd kilometres from Montreal, you feel as if you’re in Tuscany.
“I find the book is a reflection of who Maria is,” said Kirkland resident Anna Raimo, who has been taking classes with Loggia for four years. “She has a love of life and colour and family and fresh food and she is very dedicated to her children – and you feel it in the book.”
Loggia knew “all I wanted to do was to stay home” with her children, who were 10, 8 and 4 when she launched Tavola Mia in 1999. Her first class had four students.
In a decade, the school has grown. A lot. Loggia now teaches four classes a week of 10 students each and could teach more if she wanted to. Her scheduled classes are booked through January and private group classes, which she also offers, are booked through June. She runs two culinary tours to Italy each year, to Tuscany in spring and Puglia in fall, finding inspiration always in the markets there.
Still, summers off “keep me balanced,” Loggia said over thin-crust pizza at Caffe International after a shopping run through Little Italy’s Milano on a recent Friday to buy ingredients for a weekend class.
“It’s really a busy job,” she explained. For one, every class is a kind of dinner party; Loggia serves a full-course meal, with wine, of the dishes she has taught and demonstrated that day. It’s one thing when a group of 10 people who all know each other book a class. “The edge is already off then.” But in the scheduled classes, the students don’t generally all know one another, so she works extra hard to make sure everyone has a nice time. “By the time June comes, I’m completely exhausted,” she said. “I couldn’t do this job and not take a break. I would burn out.”
Many of her students keep on coming back to Tavola Mia because Loggia makes them feel incredibly welcome, because they learn a whole lot in her classes and because they have a ton of fun. “She always gives you a very warm reception when you walk into her home,” Raimo said. “She is passionate about food – and she definitely makes you fall in love with food more.”
Spaghetti con Pomodori Feschi, Basilico e Mozzarella (Spaghetti with fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella) is a fast and easy dish. Maria Loggia’s daughter can have it on the table for her younger brothers in 30 minutes, with little to clean up.
Loggia comes by the passion honestly: she grew up on wonderful food, lovingly prepared. “My mamma Gisella, as well as my nonna, Lisetta, never disappointed with the quality of the fare, no matter how simple a dish it was they had prepared,” she observes in the book’s introduction.
“I suppose that when I was sitting by my mother’s side, watching her prepare meals for the family with so much care, a seed was planted that would flower into my passion for cooking.”
Yet Loggia, who worked in a Montreal bank for several years, is the first to say she has no formal training in the kitchen; she is largely self-taught, although she has taken many classes on Italian cooking and still takes them.
And she has spent considerable time in the kitchen. Because both her parents worked, she’d start dinner if she was the first to get home and, after she got married, she’d cook on weekends. When Gino was transferred to Portland, Ore., for work and the couple moved there, she gave dinner parties. “The only way we made friends was with dinner parties,” she recalled.
But it was only during her first trip to Italy, in 1995, that she became what she called “a bona fide foodie.”
She and Gino drove along the Mediterranean coast down to Sicily from Rome, then back up the Adriatic “with drying fresh chili peppers hanging from the rear-view mirror,” she writes.
Along the way, they reveled in all the fresh ingredients they tasted, and in the nuances of similar dishes from different regions – how the heat quotient in a tomato sauce accompanying pasta rises as one heads south, for instance; there’s olive oil or butter in a northern Italian tomato sauce, but no chili peppers; check out the tomato sauce in Sicily or Calabria, though, and you’ll find them.
Students say Loggia gives them the knowledge and confidence to experiment in ways they did not before. Raimo, for instance, had struggled with pizza dough and cookies. “And Maria would say, ‘Didn’t work? Doesn’t matter. Do it again. Keep doing it and it will work.’ She would make me persist.”
She credits Loggia also for the fact that she can now make fresh pasta. “My mom can make tortellini with her eyes closed, but she has no recipes,” Raimo said.
“She cooks by eye – and it’s hard to learn. What Maria did was clear everything up for me; she gave me exact measurements and told me how to use the pasta machine, answered my questions.”
Nicole St-Onge of Ottawa, who drove to Montreal for the At Home launch and bought five copies of the book, has taken lots of cooking classes – and Loggia is the only one she has stayed with for four years.
“It’s easy to learn from her; the way she expresses herself is so simple and yet it is so important. There is always a new discovery – and she loves to share what she knows,” she said. “She’s not selfish about her knowledge. I like her honesty, the way she treats people – with respect. We are there as a small family in her class.”
And another thing: Loggia has helped St-Onge to use herbs and spices more effectively. “ ‘Do I need basil or thyme?’ I would ask. I’m not sure. Maria helped me with this, helped me to improve the flavour of food.”
For Bernard Prévost, an Ottawa interior designer, his first class with Loggia was a lesson in humility. He hadn’t been terribly enthusiastic about the idea of an Italian cooking class in Hudson when a friend mentioned it, he recalled, but tagged had along anyway.
He was blown away by what he saw, “flabbergasted,” he said – by the garden and by the house, the classes and the meals and, most of all, by Loggia herself.
“I think her values are what I really admire about her,” said Prévost, a former Montrealer who was in town for the book launch. “Most women don’t want to stay home ... I think she is very courageous in that way.”
He said he likes how Loggia is true to herself. “She is handpainting her dishes and buying old-fashioned teacups. Running to the market. That’s who she is.
“Most people don’t know how to live. I think she does. And I appreciate that in her. She goes about what she does in a very small, discreet way. There is something so simple and so humble about her; I think that true artists are really humble.”
And here Loggia, knowing nothing of my conversation with Prévost, is right on cue. All the praise being heaped on her is slightly embarrassing, she acknowledges. “I’m like my mother, more of a giver. I’m shy about receiving praise. I get a little timid.”
For a selection of recipes from At Home with Maria Loggia, please click here.
At Home with Maria Loggia and Cuisinez avec Maria Loggia are both available at Montreal’s two cookbook stores, Appetite for Books, 388 Victoria Ave. in Westmount, 514-369-2002, and Librairie Gourmande in Jean Talon Market, 7070 Henri Julien St., 514-279-1742. The French version is widely available in Montreal bookstores; the English version, which had a much smaller press run, is at some branches of the Archambault chain. Visit www.tavolamia.com, email email@example.com or call 450-458-7603.
MAKE LIKE A CULINARY EXPERT: Develop relationships with the people who supply your food; take a pass on bagged salad mixes and buy enough fruit for only a few days
Use your eyes, not a list
SUSAN SEMENAK, THE GAZETTE
Maria Loggia is on a first-name basis with everybody at the grocery store. She gives her butcher a Christmas gift. And she never cheats on her favourite vendors at Jean Talon market. “It’s the way Italians shop, says -Loggia, who runs the Italian cooking school Tavola Mia in Hudson.
"You have to be loyal. And you need to develop relationships with the people who provide your food,'" says Loggia, who recently took one of her classes on a whirlwind shopping tour ' through her favourite shops and market stalls in Little Italy "That's how you get good service. And then you can call ahead and ask the butcher for a special cut of meat. Or find out when the wild baby arugula is coming in from Italy."
"Before you know it, you're getting free bones for soups and stocks."
One of the great joys of Italy is roaming through the markets. In a country where eating is a national pastime, grocery shopping can amount to a full-time job. As editor Kay Halsey writes in The Food of Italy (Whitecap Books, 2000): "Stores open twice a day so you can buy once for lunch and then again for dinner"
And even the smallest village has at least one fruit and vegetable market, as well as its own enoteca for wine, macelleria for meat, salumeria for cured meats, and most likely a fishmonger, a bakery and a pastry shop, as well.
In Montreal, Loggia heads for the closest imitation: Little Italy.
Shopping the Italian way means relying on your eyes rather than a shopping list. When Nino Marcone of Chez Nino in Jean Talon Market holds forth a handful of just-foraged giant, earthy matsutake mushrooms from James Bay, you know instinctively that you're not having spaghetti with meat sauce for supper any more.
As Marcella Hazan, the prima donna of la cucina italiana puts it her cookbook Marcella Cucina (HarperCollins, 1997) : "We go to a food market with one of two objectives: either to buy what we have already decided to cook, or to choose what, on that day, might be desirable to cook."
Here are a few tips from Loggia and her favourite vendors:
No Italian meal is ever served without bread, and ideally, Italians buy bread on a daily basis. Otherwise, it should be frozen immediately, wrapped first in paper bags and then in sealable plastic freezer bags, to prevent sogginess.
To serve bread that's been frozen, Loggia pops it into a 225 degrees F oven for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
Choose ciabatta, the dense, flat loaves with squared or rounded edges for sandwiches or bruschetta. They hold olive oil and toppings better. Large, round pagnotti loaves boast a coarse, airier texture that makes them perfect alongside soups and saucy dishes.
Veal is one of the most popular of meats in Italy. Young, milk-fed veal is ideal for scaloppini, which need very little cooking. Look for pale and slightly rosy meat cut from the leg, for tenderness. To keep their shape during cooking, escalopes should be sliced across the grain. And no thicker than two millimetres, insists Luciano Galluccio, a butcher at Milano Fruiterie et Épicerie Fine.
For osso bucco, he says, choose veal shanks that are at least 3 to 4 centimetres thick, with a high proportion of meat to bone. Call ahead and ask the butcher to tie each shank with string around its middle, so they remain flat during the lengthy braising time.
What's antipasto without a little prosciutto, a few slices of salami? Whenever possible, choose cured meats imported from Italy, even though they are considerably more expensive. They are salted and air-dried and don't contain the nitrates found in most mass-produced, Canadian-made facsimiles.
Of course, there's prosciutto from Parma, or the famous San Daniele from Friuli. (Avoid buying end pieces, which are very salty and too chewy) But there are other sublime Italian cured meats, such as the delicate and less salty bresaola, a dark red cured raw beef from northern Lombardy that's delicious cut wafer thin and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Don't buy too much, though. Sliced prosciutto and bresaola begin to dry up and lose their flavour after more than two or three days in the fridge, no matter how well wrapped.
There's more in the olive grove than kalamata. Italians love spicy Sicilian olives and the mild and crisp, bright green Cerignola olives from Puglia.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is the king of Italian cheese. But be sure to get the real thing. Look for the word "Reggiano" stamped in pinpricks on the rind to know it's authentic, aged for a minimum of two years within well-defined geographic boundaries. Never, but never, buy ready-grated Parmesan. And don't throw away the rind; use it to enhance the flavour of stocks and soups.
When to buy fresh (fresca), when dried (secca)? Dried pasta is usually paired with heartier sauces, southern dishes with tomatoes, or meat or chunky vegetable sauces with eggplant, capers. etc. Loggia's favourite brands: Barilla, Delverde and DeCecco.
For really special dishes, she likes the "nice bite" of artisanal, hand-made dried pasta.
Fresh pasta is more delicate and best suited to creamy sauces as well as simple sauces without too many ingredients, allowing the pasta itself to shine. Also excellent for lasagna and stuffed pasta dishes. Then there's the question of long vs. short. Long, thin noodles are best for simple tomato and seafood and olive-oil based sauces.
Short pasta shapes with wide openings or deep ridges trap meat or chunkier sauces.
For soups and pasta sauces, canned whole tomatoes are an indispensable staple in the Italian pantry. When her favourite brands, Vitale and Aurora, go on sale she stocks up by the caseful. She passes them through a food mill herself just before using. Never buy varieties with herbs and spices added; they play havoc with Italian recipes.
As for tomato paste, minimize waste by opting for tubes rather than small cans. Try triple concentrate Mutti Triplo Concentrato di Pomodoro for amazing intensity of flavour and no tinny taste.
Forget bagged salad mixes. They spoil quickly and are often too bland for the Italian palate. Instead, suggests Nino Marcone of Chez Nino's produce stall; mix your own blend of tender lettuce leaves with bitter greens such as cicoria (dandelion), purple- red radicchio or peppery arugula.
When choosing fresh fruit, don't be afraid to touch and taste. Plums, for example, are ripe if they "have a little give" when poked.
At Marché Tania in Jean Talon market, co-owner Egidio Abate says he's happy to let customers try figs, peaches, or melons before buying. "It's the only way to tell a sweet and juicy peach from a pulpy, tasteless one," he says.
He recommends buying only enough fruit for two or three days: “Leave two in the fridge and one on the counter for eating the same day” Most fruits have been refrigerated in transport, so they need a day, or at least a few hours, at room temperature before they're at their best.
So what if they cost more than the main course? Believers say these crystals give food a zing that plain table salt can't match
February 21, 2004
First there was fine wine. Distinguishing Bordeaux from Burgundy became de rigueur.
Then came gourmet bottled mineral water that made Perrier passé: Ty Nant, Fiji rainwater and Harrogate Spa Water.
Now, even salt has become recherché. It used to be that when you said "Pass the salt," what slid down the table was a shaker full of the same old Sifto salt drawn from a cardboard box that cost 89 cents.
Not anymore. Salt snobs now seek out specialty sea salts that come in a variety of tastes, colours and textures. There's Halen Môn, a smoky sea salt harvested in Wales and evaporated over 800-year-old oak chippings. Or crystals of coral-coloured red alea salt from Hawaii that shimmer like tiny jewels in their jar. Volcanic sea salt that's black, and Portuguese salt picked by hand and poetically named Flor de Sal. Maldon salt, the favourite of British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, comes in fragile, mica-like flakes that melt instantly on the tongue.
So what if the salt costs more per pound than the filet mignon it will be sprinkled on?
Enthusiasts say the luxury sea salts making their way onto more and more Montreal supermarket and gourmet store shelves add a dear, refined note to foods that regular processed table salt can’t. They wax poetical about its "vibrant, fall, sweet bouquet," of the allure of its crunch, sparkle and zing.
The cream of luxury sea salts is fleur de sel. These delicate, newly formed salt Crystals are harvested by hand on just the right sunny, breezy days between May and September from the surface of seaside salt marshes in Portugal and the south of France.
Montrealer Amédée Lavallée admits to being hooked on fleur de sel. He shakes it on his sandwiches, sprinkles it on tomato slices, adds a dash to fish. He even carries a stash around with him in a little bag when he eats out in restaurants.
"There's the taste, the texture, and a crunchiness that's so fantastic. And it's so pure and unrefined. Really, it can change the taste of a plate," says Lavallée, who works at Les Douceurs du Marché gourmet food store at Atwater market. "Just about the only thing I don't have it on is my cereal in the morning."
As a kid growing up in Blanc Sablon on the Lower North Shore, he and his friends would poke their fingers into the froth that washed up on the beach and dried in the sun, and savour its said^
But until recently, nobody thought it was worth much. In Portugal and France, though, fleur de sel has long been harvested as a precious commodity that fetches premium prices. At Poissonnerie La Mer on René Lévesque Blvd., for instance, a one-kilo carton of Fleur de Sel Camargue Rosée des Salins comes with a $36.99 price tag.
Is it worth it? All salt is basically the chemical compound sodium chloride (NaCI). Sea salt is distilled from sea water. Table salt is mined from the ground. Water is pumped into salt mines to create a brine, which is then pumped into huge kilns, where it is heated to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, until salt crystals emerge once again. Impurities are filtered out and iodine and anti-caking agents such as aluminum silicate are added to make it “free-flowing."
Purists say the process compromises the salt's flavour, texture and nutritional benefits. They say that the traces of calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride removed from the salt are actually necessary nutrients.
Maria Loggia, who runs Tavola Mia, an Italian cooking school in Hudson, says the fancy-salt trend is a welcome antidote to all the bland food we've been eating ever since salt got a bad rap over hypertension. Salt, she insists, is indispensable to good food and good cooking. It sharpens and defines flavour. Or as Jeffrey Steingarten writes in The Man Who Ate Everything (Vintage Books, 1997): "Salt unites the diverse tastes in a dish, marries the sauce with the meat, and turns the pallid sweetness of vegetables into something complex and savoury."
Sure, people have to control their salt intake, Loggia concedes. And some people are more prone to high blood pressure than others. But must we all subsist on tasteless fare? She recommends curbing our consumption of high-salt processed foods before putting away the salt mill.
"Most people are so afraid of salt that they don't season anything. So their food is plain and bland," Loggia says.
Forget table salt, she says, it's too sharp and one-dimensional. "In my mouth, all I taste is its saltiness." Go for sea salt.
Salting is a skill, she says. "You have to salt in layers. A little at a time – that way you're less likely to oversalt."
Pasta, for instance, needs a tablespoon (15 mL) of salt in the boiling water – she uses inexpensive Diamond Crystal kosher sea salt – so that the flavour can permeate the semolina as it softens. No amount of sauce or seasoning later can help if the linguine was cooked without salt, she says.
Loggia teaches her students to pinch their fingers and judiciously sprinkle the salt over poultry and meat before roasting. Then, when the dishes are done, she turns to her "finishing salts," the French or Portuguese fleur de sel or her favourite Maldon salt from England.
She uses the less expensive, finer sea salt in cooking, and the coarser, more expensive gourmet salts for finishing because they add a little crunch and glimmer when sprinkled on just before serving.
This salt craze is hardly new, though. Ancient Arab traders carved great salt trading routes around the world. Men of primitive tribes sold their wives and children into slavery for it. Soldiers in ancient Rome received a special salt allowance, a salarium – the Latin word from which salary derives.
The famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda even wrote an ode to salt, Oda La Sal.
"The smallest, miniature wave from the salt cellar reveals to us more than domestic whiteness," Neruda marvelled. "In it we taste infinitude."
Balsamic is a thing of beauty
SUPERMARKET VARIETIES ARE OFTEN POOR IMITATIONS OF THE REAL VINEGAR, WHICH COMES FROM NORTHERN ITALY AND MUST PASS MUSTER. THE RESULT IS TO DIE FOR; THE PRICE CAN BE EYE-POPPING
March 5, 2005
The last time her husband offered to buy her Chanel perfume, Maria Loggia asked for a bottle of balsamic vinegar instead.
Not that the Hudson cooking school teacher was being frugal. At $100 or more, a good bottle of 25-year-old traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy, is one of the culinary world's most expensive ingredients.
"A fine balsamic is thick, complex and full bodied. It is the perfect balance between sour and sweet," Loggia waxes poetically. "Just a little drop ennobles the meal; it makes food sing."
At least she wasn't asking for the silk-lined red and white box that Guido Fornarolo hides high on a shelf in the back room at Milano Italian grocery store on St. Laurent Blvd. It's what Fornarolo calls a "veritable extravaganza," a "masterpiece from Modena."
The collector's item he cradles so carefully in the palm of his hand is a 250-ml bottle of 100-year-old Malpighi balsamico tradizionale. Just how rare is it? In all the world, there are only five litres.
It sells for $1,495.
Balsamic vinegar has become a staple in North American kitchens.
It adds sweetness, depth, colour and a hint of acidity to vinaigrettes, sauces and even desserts.
We pour it in salads and sprinkle over strawberries. But most bottles found on supermarket shelves are poor, artificially enhanced imitations of the real thing
Often, they are concoctions of concentrated grape juice, wine vinegar, sugar and caramel colour boiled together, selling for as little as $2.99 a bottle. The label might my balsamic vinegar, but the term actually covers a very loose resemblance to the real stuff.
The authentic products from Modem and neighbouring Reggio Emilia, in northern Italy, are another story altogether
Balsamic vinegar that bears the label "aceto balsamico tradizionale" and comes in a specially designed 250-ml round bottomed bottle must pass a rigorous jury system to earn its stamp of approval.
Only 120 balsamic vinegar producers make the cut every year, earning them the right to carry the DOC (controlled origin denomination) stamp of approval.
Philip Mangione, of Toronto based A. Bertozzi Importing, explains that traditional balsamic is made solely from white Trebbiano and sometimes red Lambrusco grapes grown in Modem or in Reggio Emlia.
It is produced from the soft pressed juice of grapes, or grape must, which is simmered in large copper pans over an open fire until reduced to a brown syrup with an intense grape aroma.
It is than aged for a minimum of 12 years and up to I00 years in a succession of casks of gradually diminishing size that are made of mulberry, cherry, juniper, ash and chestnut wood.
The result is a thick, tart-sweet and intensely aromatic vinegar almost black in callow and remarkably complex in flavour. Some are biting and sharp, others smooth and velvety others bitter and woodsy
Either way, the taste is a revelation to those who have only imbibed supermarket impostors.
Consumers looking to invest in a good bottle of balsamic vinegar need to ask themselves a few preliminary questions, Suggests Fornarolo, the balsamic vinegar and olive oil expert at Milano.
If you're looking for something to splash on salad or add in marinades, a 5- to 10-year-old, more acidic balsamic will do. But for drizzling on cheeses or cooked or cured meats, or over risottos, go for the more complex flavour and thicker consistency of a 15- to 25 year-old.
"When you're paying these kinds of prices, you have to be a wise buyer," advises cooking school teacher Loggia. 'Ask a lot of questions and find a gourmet store with expertise, where they will let you taste before you buy."
So many bottles, so little time: where to buy
The following Montreal-area stores stock a wide selection of balsamic vinegars in many price ranges. Most offer samples.
Fruiterie Milano, 6862 St. Laurent Blvd. (5l4)273-8558
Les Douceurs du Marché, 138 Atwater Ave. (514) 939-3902
Fromageries des Nations (two locations); 3535 Autoroute 440 West, Laval, (450) 682-3862; 7500 Galeries dAnjou, Ville d'Anjou, (514)356-2102.
Capitol Butcher, 158 Marché du Nord, Jean Talon Market. (514) 276-1345.
Why one costs $5, the other $279
Young or old, balsamic vinegars are best used simply, suggests Maria Loggia, who runs Tavola Mia Italian cooking school in Hudson. Buy the best you can afford, she says, and use it sparingly.
We tasted several brands at different price ranges, from $4.99 to $279.
President's Choice Balsamic Vinegar $4.99/ 500 ml
Doesn't even come close to the real stuff. Astringent and harsh, this variety is thin and watery and taste mostly of red-wine vinegar. Suitable for reductions and deglazing sauces.
Acetaia Leonardl La Corte. $35 / 250 nil
At 5 years old, this balsamic from Modena is still young, Though acidic and liquidy, it is velvety in taste. Nice on salads or in marinades.
Cantine Motta Acetum $21.75/250 ml.
Eight years old. Still young and lightly coloured, but with depth of flavour and just the right note of acidity for use in salad dressings.
Acetaia Ballei Balsamico $34.95/ 250 ml
A medium-bodied 12-year-old balsamic. Thick and slightly syrupy in texture and sweeter, more complex in favour, with a hint of caramel flavour and deep colour. Great to sprinkle on roasted red peppers, over roasted or grilled meats, in past dishes and over risotto.
Leonardi 25-year-old balsamico tradizionale $80/190 ml
Traditional balsamic made from Larnbrusco grapes from Modena. Bittersweet, complex flavour. Thick and deep golden-brown coIour. Use sparingly on grilled meats, wild game, strong tangy cheeses like taleggio or aged asiago cheeses Divine in tiramisu or sprinkled on fresh fruits.
Giusti 40-year-old balsamico tradizionale $279/ 125 ml
This is an aged balsamic front Modena. Dark brown velvety colour Thick with complex and tangy flavour. At this price, dispense with a dropper, over aged cheeses, such as Parmigiano Reggiano. Especiadly fine on fresh fruits.