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Nov 16, 2007 11:20 AM

Looking to buy Aged Balsamic - Suggestions?


I'm looking to buy a nice and approachable aged balsamic vinegar. I'm never had it before, so don't know where to start. Any suggestions on what to buy and where?


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  1. I'm interested in this as well. I can tell you where not to go: Sun Valley Fine Foods on Danforth. It was highly recommended to me so I decided to give it a try. The selection was small and even the most expensive bottle (around $50) only offered a surprisingly thin balsamic. I bought it anyways, figuring that I'd give it a try, and I've been quite disappointed with it and have no compulsion to really finish it. The taste is, frankly, abrasive and very simple.

    I don't know if the place is still around or if this is less than you wanted to spend, but I found a lovely $50 bottle of thick, complex balsamic at Magnolia Fine Foods on College near Bathurst a couple years back that was so good that I'd sneak out of my bedroom in the middle of the night to steal sips from the bottle.

    1 Reply
    1. re: vorpal

      Maybe out of your geography but Berardino's on Plains Road East in Burlington has an excellent selection.

    2. if you've never had it before then i suggest you first go to a place that will offer you samples so that you can better understand what it is that makes an aged balsamic so great. i'd dare say that any good one should always be approachable.

      one place that would help inform you of what you should be looking for and will give you a few samples is the olive pit on queen west. i wouldn't necessrily suggest that you purchase any from here as i find it quite expensive, but they can certainly help you figure things out. i've got a 10yr from pasquale bros in etobicoke ($15 special) that's not thick and syrupy but certainly has a nice viscousity and depth of flavour and developing sweetness. it's a delight to have on its own.

      2 Replies
      1. re: pinstripeprincess

        that's funny...I was just about to recommend that $15 bottle of 10 yr balsamic from Pasquale Bros. which is in my cupboard as well.

      2. i've seen some thick aged balsamic at winner's
        (dufferin mall)

        1 Reply
        1. Alex's farm on the danforth has a wonderful 14 year aged balsamic it is thick and naturally sweet and under $20.

          1. I'm interested as well (and don't know much). My question is -- if you were going to give a foodie friend a bottle of aged balsamic as a gift, what kind would you buy? This would be a stand-alone bottle, not part of a gift basket. How old? How much would you spend? And does a bottle by itself sound stupid, or better to pair with an olive oil or other item.

            And suggestions of where to go in Toronto would be great.

            8 Replies
            1. re: JamieK

              Just a note: if someone gave me a good quality balsamic paired with a high end olive oil as a gift, they would be my favourite person for a long time.

              I can't tell you how much to spend as looking above, it looks like I overspent on what wasn't very good quality! I'm going to go check out some of those recommendations.

              1. re: vorpal

                Agreed! I think most of us have at one time or another been duped into buying "trendy" food products from foodie shops. Really, we should be looking in hidden/ugly places for better value and taste instead of falling for lovely packaging and cute marketing. Either make sure you can taste before you buy or go to a place (like Pasquale Bros) where the staff want you to be happy and give honest opinions.

              2. re: JamieK

                I think if you put it in a nice wine gift bag, no other item would be necessary. If a $10 bottle of wine can be a gift, then certainly the right bottle of balsamic or Minus 8 vinegar can be too!

                1. re: julesrules

                  Thanks. I've been thinking a some more about this. Okay, I'm starting to panic as I haven't even starting shopping so I've been thinking a LOT about it. I have two very long-time foodie friends (I'm talking 30+ years) who I want to spend more than $10 on BUT $36 on 100ml of Minus 8 is way too much for my budget if I paired it with something else, yet (bearing in mind that both these friends are each halves of a foodie couple) one tiny slim bottle of expensive ice wine vinegar by itself doesn' tseem substantial enough no matter how special it is.

                  So, what I'm going to do is check out the Fondo Montebello recommended below (or other balsamic), and find a good olive oil to pair with. Maybe.

                  And you're right, presentation is everything. So a nice wrapping or wine gift bag for sure.

                  1. re: JamieK

                    this is meandering a bit and not exactly a pair for balsamic.. but perhaps you might want to try getting some truffle honey? it's very unique and quite tasty. my good balsamic and the truffle honey do sometimes end up on the cheese plate together so it's not completely odd.

                    a nice box (potentially even lined with some cushy cloth) will make anything look like it's worth a million bucks. i just don't find bags do anything justice.

                    1. re: JamieK

                      It would be substantial enough for me! One perfectly chosen item is the ideal gift. But I understand your feeling.

                      And who starts xmas shopping before December 20 anyway?

                      1. re: julesrules

                        lol, one of those foodie friends I mentioned -- she's just about done shopping, curse her!

                        1. re: julesrules

                          Okay, so I did it. I got three bottles of the Minus 8 for gifts. Thanks cheesymamma for the tip. And jules, you're right, one well-chosen item is perfect. The bottle itself looks pretty nifty, bigger than what I expected. And, as production is limited, each comes with a little numbered tag and suggestions for use. Minus 8 was also on Toronto Life's 100 things you have to taste before you die. So, I'll include that with the gift and maybe a recipe.

                          At All The Best, the Minus 8 100mL bottle is $35.95.

                          But get this, Summerhill Market is also selling Minus 8 at $48.99. Same 100mL bottle. Holy Moly! Do we have a candidate for the "sixth thief"?

                          Ha! If I had bought three bottles at SM, it would have cost me about $147. By buying at ATB, I saved about $37, enough to buy another bottle to mysteriously appear under my tree.