Gift Guide, Day 13

Rare and Wonderful Balsamic Vinegar:

One of the first theories of gift-giving is to offer your friends the indulgences you most covet but feel guilty about buying for yourself. Great aged balsamic vinegar definitely falls into that category.  I love it, find it endlessly useful in the kitchen – and am always reluctant to spend the money for the best. 

Buying it for friends is another matter.  It is, I think, a perfect gift. Choosing which one to buy is a constant problem, but here is a suggestion.  Aceto Balsamico of Monticello is a wonderful elixir, with deep, concentrated flavor.  Organic and hand-made, it is aged in Italian casks for thirteen years.  It is rare – only a thousand bottles are sold each year. And – here’s the amazing thing – it is made in New Mexico. Paul Bertolli of Fra' Mani first told me about it, and I am forever in his debt.

This is, obviously, a present for someone you really care about. But if they dole it out the way that I do, a drop here, a drop there, it will last all year. And they’ll think of you each time they taste the mysteriously deep, dense flavor.



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Ruth, I am so enjoying reading these wonderful gift ideas. I think the premise of thinking about the things that we want the most for our kitchens (but won't buy) often make the best gifts for like-minded cooking friends.

I just finished reading Comfort Me with Apples, and I have to tell you how much I loved reading it. I was on my honeymoon and I just couldn't put it down... your writing is so evocative of both time and place, I was engrossed. I bring it up here, because in that book you tried balsamic vinegar for the first time- it was so rare in the late 70s/early 80s that you had never tasted it before! I find it so interesting learning about the history and lifecycles of such ingredients... and it is nice to hear that we have advanced so much that quality balsamic is being made here in the US. I will have to look into this more for gift purposes (and possibly to treat myself!) Thanks for the great ideas. Can't wait to keep reading your words, both here and more of your books.

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Where am I eating? What's for dinner tonight? And what books have I been reading? For a look at what's going on in my life lately, take a look at this journal, which I try to update on a regular basis.