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Jul 10, 2009 11:27 AM

Balsamic Vinegar recs?

I'm fresh out of balsamic vinegar and thought I would hit you guys up for some suggestions on some of the better quality balsamic vinegars you've tried.
In particular, I'm looking for something to go with bread as well as meat apps.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Pusateri's house branded 12-year aged balsamic is seriously yummy. Thick and sweet, I could eat it with a spoon. Fantastic with strawberries or drizzled over prosciutto or just with bread. And it's cheaper than the equivalent Italian brands.

    1 Reply
    1. re: TorontoJo

      I have to admit that I don't shop at Pusateri's. I'm partial to the Cheese Boutique as I grew up with it. Anyone try anything from there they'd recommend?

    2. are there any good ones you can buy in a regular supermarket? i don't have these upscale places here in brampton but fortino's usually has a pretty decent selection...longo's as well

      7 Replies
      1. re: duckdown

        Two excellent standby balsamics have been provided by PC and Kirkland. These are not expensive dipping syrups, but well made vinegars with no short cuts (like adding sugar syrup). As I recall about $14 for 750 ml.

        1. re: jayt90

          I've seen a variety of the PC ones before at Fortino's, but never knew if they were good/or which one to try

          My Costco membership expired earlier this year so I'm not sure about the Kirkland

          Thanks for the reccomendations... but lets say I wanted to try one of these expensive dipping balsalmics (I don't think I've ever had a really god balsalmic before), do you have any suggestions?

          Someone kept telling me that they make a salad dressing for their guests with only olive oil and a good balsalmic and it's so good that people will end up licking their bowls... I have yet to try a high quality version of either :(


          1. re: duckdown

            that's exactly what i do for salads actually - balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper, poured right on the salad by eye (which, according to my nonna, was the only way to do it...for some reason the idea of shaking dressing up in a jam jar appalled her).

            the only PC balsamic that i've found to be worthwhile was the 10 year old stuff - my recollection is that it has the modena DOP designation (or whatever it's called...that special seal that denotes that it was made in the traditional way), and maybe a picture of parmesan cheese, of all weird things, on the bottle.

            my high end balsamic of choice is the manicardi stuff i mentioned elsewhere in this thread - it's about $12 for a small bottle (250 ml), but they also have varieties aged 7 years and 5 years that are less expensive (although i can't vouch for them). i buy it at Lady Yorke, but i think it might also be available at Grande Cheese on Orfus Rd.

          2. re: jayt90

            I agree - Costco's Kirkland brand is excellent, (produced in Modena). At around $14 for a one litre bottle it's excellent value. It is much better than a fancy, expensive, and small, bottle of balsamic from Pusateri's (sorry, can't remember the name - it was pretty forgettable).

            1. re: Crepes Suzette

              Big Costco fan here! Agreed that the Kirkland balsamic is great for everyday use (as is their extra virgin olive oil), but you really can't compare it to an "expensive and small" 10- or 12-year aged balsamic. The stuff I buy at Pusateri's is viscous and intense and delicious enough to serve as dessert over vanilla ice cream. I'm sure the same can be said for some of the ones from Cheese Boutique or Pasquale Bros. You can't do that with the Kirkland stuff (which does make a great salad dressing, though). The Pusateri brand is $25 for 250ml, which is about $10 cheaper than the nearest branded equivalent.

              I know this is a cooking tip and probably doesn't belong here, but one thing you can do if you want a more intense balsamic is to reduce the Kirkland balsamic in a sauce pan by about half. You will end up with a much more syrupy and intense vinegar. It doesn't replicate the aging process, but it does get you closer to the expensive stuff and can be used with olive oil for dipping or as a finishing drizzle on whatever you're cooking.

          3. re: duckdown

            etobicoke isn't very far, you should check out pasquales though they're only open during the week.

            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              Thanks, etobicoke isn't very far you're right (i drive ridiculous distances for food)... i've been to the cheese boutique a few times in the past but havent heard about pasquale's

              I'll check it out


          4. The best balsamic vinegar I can get my hands is from Oliviers and Co. It's the first one listed:

            Sadly, they recently closed their Toronto store and moved to Montreal, but you can order their products online. I talked to the owner and she'll apparently be offering free shipping shortly.

            The balsamic is an excellent study in balance, with just the right amount of sweetness without being cloying like some really old balsamics. It's relatively viscous but still usable for salads. Still, I adore simply dipping some good crusty bread into it with a suitable medium-bodied olive oil that doesn't overwhelm.

            At the end of the day, I find tastes in balsamic vinegar range wildly. If you go to Pusateri's on Bay, there's a wonderful woman named Sandra who knows her way around olive oil and vinegar and will let you taste to your heart's content. Just tell her if it's too sweet, too viscous or whatever and she will present a new one accordingly.

            1. It is believed that the best balsamic vinegar is made in Modena, Italy

              1. I'm not sure what options are available at the Cheese Boutique, but there's a whole raft of different balsamics (aged and otherwise) available at Lady Yorke on Dufferin near Lawrence. We get the 10 year old balsamic made by a company called Manicardi, from Modena (it's a weird kind of triangular bottle, but it comes in a bright orange box). I use it typically for dressing salads, it's on the sweet side but definitely still has some bite. The PC 10 year old balsamic is reasonable as well, but I prefer the Manicardi.

                1 Reply
                1. re: wickalicious

                  Thanks guys, for all your helpful tips.