Modena the home of vinegar 

Stage 12 – Forli – Reggio Emilia

The first half of this stage climbed steadily in elevation to 928m over the Colla di Casaglia and then to Calico Appenninico. The official route then takes the A1 motorway which traverses various steep valleys for some 33km or so. You can see why the route planners chose this as it would have been near on impossible to navigate out of.

So for us, & the 2nd time this Giro, that meant bikes in the vans.

Although the route flattened out on wide and straight roads with series of roundabouts for the last 100km it also cut across a number of densely inhabited areas, particularly Modena and it took an absolute age in the late afternoon rush hour traffic to maintain a rhythm with the endless sets of red lights and road furniture. A hot long day out on the bike, even with the autostrada issue we still rode 126 miles in temperatures just under 30°c

So what about the region’s food and extraordinary number of products and dishes from Emilia-Romagna that seems to lie at the heart of “Italian” cooking. Emilia-Romagna is the home of Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, prosciutto di Parma, tortellini, and much more. And these are truly wonderful things.

Balsamic vinegar, real Balsamic vinegar, is one of the finest condiments in the world bar none.

In 1046, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry III was given a silver bottle containing a celebrated vinegar while passing through a town on his way to his coronation. The record of this visit is thought to be the first written reference to balsamic vinegar, a condiment once known only to those in the Emilia-Romagna region of what is now modern Italy, produced only in the provinces of Reggio Emilia —where Henry III was visiting —and neighbouring Modena.

Today, Balsamic vinegar is known to cooks around the world and available to shoppers everywhere. It can sell for as much as £150 an ounce, or as cheaply as £3 for a 16 ounce bottle. But how can one vinegar offer such a dramatic price range? How can one condiment be fit for an emperor & a salad dressing?

The answer is that there isn’t just one balsamic vinegar, understanding the differences takes a bit of investigation.

Traditional balsamic vinegar is the daddy of balsamic vinegars. To this day it is only made in Reggio Emilia and Modena, Italy, using traditional methods, and production is overseen from beginning to end by a special certification agency.

Traditional balsamic vinegar begins with grape must —whole pressed grapes complete with juice, skin, seeds and stems. The must from sweet white locally grown and late-harvested grapes usually Lambrusco or Trebbiano varieties is cooked over a direct flame until concentrated by roughly half, then left to ferment naturally for up to three weeks. Matured and further concentrated for a minimum of 12 years in a “batteria,” or five or more successively smaller ageing barrels. These barrels are made of different types of wood such as oak, chestnut, cherry, juniper, and mulberry, so that the vinegar can take on the complex flavours of the casks.

Once a year the vinegar is bottled from the smallest cask in the sequence. Each cask is then topped up with vinegar from the next cask up, with the largest cask getting filled with the new yield. None of the casks are ever completely drained. This ageing process is similar to the solera process used for fine Sherry, ports & sweet wines.

The vinegar gets thicker and more concentrated as it ages because of evaporation that occurs through the walls of the barrels—the vinegar the smallest barrel will be much thicker and more syrupy than the liquid in the successively larger barrels.

Because of the multi-barrel process, it takes complex math to gauge the average age of the bottled product, so instead a tasting commission of five expert judges convenes to taste the vinegars and determine an appropriate grade, and no age is printed on the label. In Reggio Emilia, traditional balsamics are graded affinato (fine), with a red cap, which roughly corresponds to a 12-year vintage; vecchio (old), with a silver cap, which roughly corresponds to a 15-20 year vintage; or extra vecchio (extra old), with a gold cap, which roughly corresponds to a 20-25 year vintage. In Modena there’s just affinato, with a white cap, or extra vecchio, with a gold cap.
If you would like to support us by donating then here’s my page-

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia


~ by theboxterboy on May 18, 2017.

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