Last week José asked for fried eggs with chanquetes in a very basic elemental place in Sevilla. The egg came dribbled all over with balsamic glaze.
J, a calm fellow, just shrugged and dunked his bread in the yolk.
I am all rage, and strong arms had to forcibly restrain me from throwing those eggs at the cook´s head. I´d ordered the rice, it wasn´t my problem, but really, in what stupid parallel universe does anyone think a fried egg is improved by a brown squiggle?
This has got to stop. I will now be beaten into submission by this stupid fad. I´ve had it.
Listen: balsamic vinegar is not a neutral ingredient. As well as acidity, it has a bunch of other flavours (wine vinegar, grape must, sulphites E22o, caramel colouring E150D, anyone?).
It should not be thrown about any old how. It can be a wonderful product, but it can also be pretty intrusive and pointless. If I had my way, I´d forbid the wanton use of this substance to all except
A. Italians. they invented the thing, they know what to do with it
B. good chefs. Ditto about knowing
I also think it´s fine to carry a small quantity for personal use at home.
Otherwise, people opperating bars or restaurants, de-glue your hand from the neck of that bottle with the Duke of Modena on it. Morever, don´t, I repeat, DO NOT, reduce it to a syrup and doodle on plates.
If you´re artistic, or think you may be, ask for help. There are other substances for you to try out, like charcoal and paper. Hopefully, you won´t expect us to eat those.
The worst thing is, we have excellent vinegars here. We should be selling them to the world, bottled prettily and labelled with the Countess of Chinchón, or whatever, and spending the hard cash on Ferraris. Instead, where are we? Buying stupid cheap balsamic from those clever fellows in Modena, who already have too many Ferraris anyway.
So listen, keep to Sherry vinegar. It´s the best we have to offer, and understandably, it´s the one best suited to traditional Spanish cuuisine. Anything else is pure daftness.
If you must waive your kids´ college education and spend millions on cute little bottles, then go for PX vinegar. It´s Made from Pedro Ximénez, a generous dessert wine made from raisins. It´s good, it´s pretty, it´s expensive, it´s sweet and heady and I daresay it may even reduce marvelously well. Just the thing for you arty types.
And now, enough ranting. I´ll give you my recipe for a killer vinaigrette, so we can all compare notes.
If anyone makes this with so much as a drop of balsamic, I´ll combust, die, become a ghost, and hide in your store cupboard, howling forever. Be warned.
Take an empty, clean jam jar. Put a heaped teaspoonful of Dijon mustard, and another one of honey. Mix well, maybe even put it a few seconds in the microwave. Add vinegar, the good stuff, from Jerez, to double the volume of mustard and honey. Add salt. Be generous. Now add olive oil, also the good stuff, to double the volume of vinegar.
Add a good pinch of cumin (this is optinal, but excellent if you´re serving your salad with cheese) and a couple of spoonfuls of water.
Screw the jar tight, and juggle it vigorously until it looks creamy and perfect.
This vinaigrette will keep for weeks in the fridge, and will truly make your salad preparations a thing of minutes.