How Balsamic Vinegar is Made

•March 31, 2010 • 3 Comments

Traditional aged balsamic vinegar comes from Modena or Reggio Emilia

Traditional balsamic vinegar is produced from the Trebbiano grape being made in Modena and Reggio Emilia since the Middle Ages by a careful fermentation process in cherished wooden casks.

The reduction of the grape creates a thick syrup called Mosto Culto in Italian. The Mosto Culto is aged in seven barrels each one getting smaller than the last. The barrels are manufactured from a variety of woods including chestnut, acacia, cherry, oak, mulberry, ash and Juniper (each one imparting its own unique flavor). It takes a staggering 800 gallons of grape juice to make 30 gallons of balsamic vinegar.

The balsamic vinegar from Modena has a special color coded cap labeling system, a cream cap signifies that it has been aged 12 years and a gold cap over 25 years. There are many mass-produced balsamic vinegars on the market made with artificial colorings and added flavorings, but only one is truly original and authentic – Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.

The Process of making Balsamic Vinegar:

The traditional method of making the vinegar is carefully overseen and takes years of fermentation and aging to get the best from the grapes. The grapes are reduced down to a Must or concentrated syrup. This highly prized syrup is added to barrels with an acetobacter or “mother” or a strong wine vinegar. The process is more often than not started in the warm summer months for optimal fermentation to occur. The vinegar is stored in wooden barrels, traditionally in the attics of Italian families.  In the winter, each barrel is topped off with the contents of the previous (larger) barrel, this process is called Rincato and the process of going between the casks is known as Travaso.

Balsamic vinegar of Modena in casks

The region of Modena is known around the world for its prestigious vinegar but it has only really come into the culinary spotlight in recent years, being used by creative chefs to add some pizazz to desserts, fish, fresh fruit and eggs. Just a few drops are needed to bring the dish to life. Italians have known this for centuries and families have a special place in their hearts for their vinegar. The vinegar would often be passed down from generation to generation.  In fact, there is a saying in Modena “who will first start the vinegar will not taste it, but his children or grandchildren will.”  The exquisite, hand crafted vinegar would be given to honored guests and nobility at family ceremonies and celebrations.

Our 150 year old Modena Balsamic Vinegar is the best in the World it comes in a box from the Giusti family the oldest producer in Modena. The box was made for a Charity Auction at the request of Luciano Pavorotti known as Lo Scigrio. It comes in a bottle designed by Giugiaro in 1870, which can be used solely for true balsamic vinegar produced in Modena.  With a refined, sweet and rich flavor, why not treat yourself and enjoy the fruits of an ancient and timeless Italian tradition, taking your place in history!

Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

Nifty Kitchen Gadgets

•March 21, 2010 • 6 Comments

Heres a run down of our favorite must have nifty kitchen gadgets, with cool designs and great uses!

  • Poach Pods - These cool little silicon pods allow you to poach eggs: simply break the egg into them and add to boiling water.  Poach pods create the perfect Sunday morning breakfast when paired with smoked salmon and French cheese!

Poach Pod

  • Danish Bread WhiskThis is a fantastic tool for mixing bread dough, recommended by “Artisan Bread in Five”, proponents of the famous no knead method of bread making.

Danish Bread Whisk

  • Provencal Garlic GraterThis age old ceramic tool is a must have in any kitchen.  To release the full potency of garlic, simply rub each clove into the bottom of the bowl.  Classic, simple and extremely effective.

Provencal Garlic Grater

  • The Rabbit Ear Corkscrew – This nifty wine bottle opener extracts the cork in 3 seconds flat with no little bits of cork left behind!

Rabbit Ear Corkscrew

  • Tea Infuser Stick - A slick stainless steel vessel for adding tea leaves that slowly infuses the tea into your cup.  Great for single servings of perfectly brewed tea.
  • Avocado 3 in 1 – This is the must have tool for making guacamole.  As the name suggests, this handy device helps you pit the avocado, scoop it out and mash it in 3 simple steps.

Avocado 3 in 1

  • Folding Measuring Cups – Those with fully stocked kitchens know that every inch of space counts.  This functional design allows the measuring cups to collapse on themselves for convenient storage.

Folding measuring cups

  • The Simple Mash Potato Masher – This device makes mashing potatoes a cinch.  With half the effort of traditional methods, the simple mash potato masher creates perfectly fluffy mash potatoes each and every time.

The simple mash potato

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?

written by Rebecca of Black Star Gourmet

What is Fleur de Sel

•March 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment
Fleur de Sel

Natural Fleur de Sel

Fleur de sel or “Flower of Salt” in French has an ancient history dating back hundreds of years. It is traditionally harvested by hand off the coast of Brittany in Guerande, Camargue and also on the Island of Noirmoutier. The Island received its name from the uniforms of the monks at the Monastry.  In fact, the monks started harvesting salt some 1500 years ago. The Island is located off the west coast of France, and home to the worlds most expensive potato, Le Bonnette, which sells for about 70 euros per kilo, and of course Fleur de Sel. Fleur de Sel from Noirmoutier Island is comparable to the prized Guerande salt, although a it is a little wetter and paler in color.

The process of harvesting the salt is completely natural and only involves the sun, sea and man. Local Fleur de Sel specialities include salt butter and Vendean brioche. It is featured in many dishes and is often used to bring out the flavors of fresh seasonal produce.

Vendean Brioche

It is referred to as white Gold and as in history, has helped the Island gain wealth and prosperity.  Throughout the ages, salt has been used as a method of food preservation and herring fisherman would often plan a stop at this Island to obtain supplies.

The Island has many salt marshes or Oeillets separated by mud walls. The sea water is directed in the marshes via canals and then through reservoirs, which gradually become more shallow nearer the salt pans. As the water evaporates during dry periods, the salt crystals are formed. These are then carefully harvested by hand.  In the first stage they are large coarse crystals, light grey in color and known as “sel gris”. The islands location in the Atlantic ocean with a mild climate and dry winds make it the perfect region for maximum evaporation. The sea salt is never processed and packaged completely naturally, the same way it has been done for centuries. It is lower in sodium and high in calcium giving it a smooth savory taste.

Tips for cooking:

  • Croque au sel - A simple mixing of fresh vegetables with sea salt and butter either raw or steamed.
  • Croute en sel - A method of cooking a meat or fish in salt, which is then later removed. Suited perfectly with baked fish, the salt forms a crusted layer that can then be removed after baking.

Croute en Sel

  • Fleur de Sel also makes a great addition to steak, roasted nuts and salad.

Use sparingly and enjoy the rich flavor Fleur de Sel imparts

Natural 'Fleur De Sel' Sea Salt from Noirmoutier Island - France

Bag of Fleur de Sel


Must Have Foodie iPhone Apps

•March 14, 2010 • 6 Comments

These days we go online for almost everything, chatting with friends, buying gourmet food, catching up with World news, finding great places to eat and getting recipes. We can even do this on the go, so what are the coolest applications for foodies, here’s a rundown:

  • The Good Food Guide:
    Helps you find safe, healthy and sustainable food, personal care and toy products by scanning bar codes.
  • All Organic:
    A list of organic markets, stores and restaurants across the US.
  • Locavore:
    Helps you find seasonal foods in your neighborhood.
  • The Seafood Guide:
    Helps you to make wise and sustainable seafood choices developed by the famous Monterrey Aquarium.
  • iFarmMarket:
    Awonderful collection of American Farmers Markets with location and opening hours.
  • iVegetarian:
    A great guide to vegetarian and vegan eco-friendly dining.
  • Green Sushi Selection:
    Guides you to make safe and sustainable sushi choices complete with Japanese names.
  • Tipulate:
    Calculates tips and splits the bill.
  • Big Oven:
    160,000 free recipes
  • Pocket Cocktails:
    Drinks and wine featuring a collection of cocktail recipes, and suggestions for food and wine pairings
  • Calorie Tracker (by Livestrong):
    Log your daily food intake to find out how many calories you are taking in, it also allows you to record physical activity stating calories burned
  • Food Network:
    Jam-packed with free recipes
  • Yelp:
    A free GPS enabled local restaurant guide
  • UrbanSpoon:
    A free slot machine style app, allowing you to add the type of food and price range, it then finds a local restaurant for you
  • Hello Vino:
    An app that lists great suggestions for wine pairings.  Don’t know which wine goes with that cheese you are enjoying? Just open the app and it lists all the perfect wine pairings and even recommends specific brands.

Save Up to 30 Percent on Holiday Gourmet Food Gifts at Black Star Gourmet

•December 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

12/15/09 – Press Release

Save Up to 30 Percent on Holiday Gourmet Food Gifts at Black Star Gourmet

For a limited time Black Star Gourmet is offering online savings of up to 30% on select holiday gourmet food gifts. Online shoppers who shop before December 30th can take advantage of these last minute deals for a jolly and decidedly delicious Holiday Season.

Gourmet food sale - The best gourmet food online from the Black Star Gourmet food store

Up to 30% off gourmet food gifts - Black Star Gourmet

New York, NY December 15, 2009 – After a successful website launch everyone at www.blackstargourmet.com is in a festive mood. To keep spirits bright, Black Star announces seasonal savings of up to 30% on selected gourmet food gifts.

Black Star Gourmet offers exceptional quality Caviar Gift Sets and simply the best gourmet food online. Holiday gift givers can take advantage of many exclusive caviar gift sets starting at only $45.00.

American caviar gift set - Black Star Gourmet

American Caviar Sampler Gift Set

Indulge your favorite gourmand with select gourmet food gifts that include specialty culinary oils and vinegars, rare and exotic French Winter Black Truffles, dreamy Belgian chocolates, smoked salmon and more.

For those who can’t resist the rich, crisp taste of freshwater caviar, Black Star Gourmet offers Fresh Hackleback Caviar at holiday prices that will dazzle you. Rush your order of this eco-friendly American black caviar and serve luscious appetizers for a special Holiday feast.

In Mediterranean cuisine, aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy is regarded with the same culinary appreciation as a fine aged wine. This extraordinary balsamic vinegar has been aged in special wood casks for over 75 years. Order some for an unforgettable gourmet holiday gift at an exceptional value.

75 Years Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena - Buy vinegar online

75 Years Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

Looking for a luxurious holiday gift you can afford? Beautifully wrapped Leonidas Napolitan Assorted Chocolates come in an exquisite red gift box for a memorable presentation.

Black Star Gourmet offers world class gourmet food online at the best possible prices and with up to 30% off gourmet food gifts this is sure to be an unforgettable Holiday season. Hurry and shop today for these sumptuous seasonal specials.

For more information and to see the holiday shipping schedule, visit www.blackstargourmet.com today.

About Black Star Gourmet: The Black Star Gourmet mission is to bring together the finest quality products and culinary ingredients from all over the world and offer them to our discerning clientele at unbeatable prices. With a wide selection of gourmet foods from across the globe, you’ll be sure to find a high quality holiday gift this season.

Serving Caviar – A Basic Guide

•December 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

When it comes to learning the fine art of serving caviar a fresh, simple and elegant approach is best.

Serve it Fresh:

Freshness can mean the difference between serving up a heap of fish eggs and enjoying delicately flavored caviar. As long as the can or jar hasn’t been opened, caviar will stay fresh for up to four weeks. However, once the can has been opened it will perish within about 72 hours. To store it, keep it in the coldest part of your refrigerator (usually the bottom drawer) but never freeze caviar- you’ll destroy the texture.

When serving caviar, take it out of the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes, keeping the lid on until you are ready to serve it.

Serving Caviar | Caviar Server | Caviar and Vodka

Caviar and Vodka: Serving caviar traditionally

Keep it Simple:

Caviar should always be served on ice. For a simple presentation, keep it in the tin, placed in crushed ice. When it comes to serving caviar, placing the tin’s lid nearby is not only allowed, it’s customary.

Dish up Elegance:

Serving caviar should be for the eye and for the palate. From a handsome simple glass server to mother of pearl hand carved spoons, the accoutrements de la table for serving caviar are as practical as they are pretty.

A mother of pearl or tortoise shell spoon is used to lift the delicate egg up vertically to avoid crushing it.  Of course, you don’t have to use mother of pearl spoons. However, be forewarned: there are still some caviar connoisseurs that believe using metal utensils spoil the subtle taste of caviar and they would rather use plastic ware than risk sabotaging the savory delicacy.

Serving Caviar the Classic way

If serving caviar is an art, then traditional Russian blinis are the perfect blank canvas. These traditionally tiny gourmet buckwheat pancakes and crème fraiche are the classic complements to caviar.

Dollop a creamy cloud of crème fraiche atop warm blini and top it off with a small portion of caviar…and voila… a traditional caviar canapé.

What to drink?

Traditionally, ice cold vodka or dry champagne accompany caviar. The rule of thumb is that you don’t want to serve any beverage or food that will overwhelm the caviar.

A classic guide to serving caviar wouldn’t be complete if the technique for eating caviar wasn’t included: Use the tip of your tongue to trap and burst the eggs against the palate (roof of your mouth) to release the delicate flavor into your mouth. Enjoy!

Caviar gifts for the gourmet food lover

•November 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The Black Star Gourmet Caviar Gift Sets include everything needed for the ultimate gourmet caviar experience. Whether you are looking for a luxurious Valentine’s Day gift or an exceptional holiday gift for someone with discriminating tastes, Black Star Gourmet has a caviar and food gift set for any occasion. A quintessential gourmet food experience, you can’t go wrong with our Premium Caviar and Gourmet Food Gift Basket. It contains an exclusive ready-made feast of decadently delicious foods from France, including black summer truffles. Our Russian Caviar Gift Set includes the most prized caviar in the world and arrives packaged in an authentic Russian hand-painted wooden gift box depicting a Tsar sharing caviar with invited guests. You can be sure of the finest quality when you present someone with one of our caviar gift sets.

Caviar Gift - Paddlefish Caviar Gift | Gourmet Food Gift | Gourmet Gift Baskets

American Paddlefish Caviar Gift Set

 
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