Where Can I find a great Selection of Balsamic Vinegars in Orange County/LA
I was buying a thick beautiful 18 year old balsamic vinegar from a company online. They have the worst customer service, so I'm looking for something new.
Preferably a gourmet type shop with a big selection of Olive Oils and Balsamics in the Orange county Area. Wouldn't mind traveling to LA if it's a good selection.
Maybe a place where I could sample different balsamics before purchasing them.
Hmm. I know they have a nice selection of true Balsamic vinegars at Cube marketplace on La Brea. Yeah, it's up in L.A., but that's what I know. We're talking super high-end, $250-$300/bottle stuff (up to 100 years old!) I don't know if they offer balsamic tastings, but you could certainly give them a call. It's also a great place to eat.
You could always try the italian goods importer guidi marcello in santa monica. They are geared to restaurants but sell to the public as well.
I get Uncle Berch's products at the Pasadena farmer's market but they do on line and other markets so check them out. http://www.uncleberch.com/ They have a fig balsamic that is wonderful along with other flavors and straight balsamic vinegars of different ages. Hopefully this isn't the company that you are having trouble with because they are really nice, helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the products they sell.
Although a trip down the aisle of an upscale supermarket may suggest otherwise, you don't need a great selection of balsamic vinegar, you just need the right balsamic vinegar. For almost any purpose, I like the Villa Manodori, made by Massimo Bottura, chef of the best restaurant in Modena - it just earned its third Michelin star. The vinegar is beautiful, evocative stuff, not cheap at about $40 a bottle, but not so dear that you will never use it. You can even find it at Whole Foods, I think. Anything less is just sugary, caramel-colored junk unworthy of your table.
Astronomically more expensive but perhaps worth it is the real balsamic, the tradizionale, which is made by one of the small makers in the consorzio, comes in a distinctive globe-meets-cube 100 ml bottle, and starts at around $160 for the entry level. Cube, Guidi Marcello and Surfas in L.A. are places to start, or you can order online from Zingerman's. There is a pretty big difference between producers, but you're probably not going to be able to choose. As with Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma, the consorzio promotes the useful fiction that all tradizionale is the same.