Gourmet Oil & Vinegar
Oils and vinegars have been used for millennia, both to add flavor to food and as a medium for storage. Their quality varies widely based on the quality of the ingredients and the methods of production, which should be cited on their labels. By understanding how oils and vinegars are labeled you can guarantee you purchase only the highest quality.
Olive oil has been produced in Mediterranean countries for thousands of years. Today, it is consumed worldwide and its high amounts of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats have been shown to be beneficial to cardiovascular health.
The vast majority of olive oil production is supervised by the International Olive Council (IOC), which sets quality standards for different grades of olive oil with extra virgin olive oil being the highest and most pure oil. Extraction is achieved exclusively through the mechanical process of pressing the olives, and the oil may not contain any inferior olive oils derived from other extraction methods. Its acidity may not exceed 0.8%.
To ensure the highest quality and a truly authentic and superior product, we recommend purchasing olive oil from small boutique producers rather than commercial supermarket brands. High quality olive oil has a distinctive taste and color depending on the types of olives used, the geographical origin of the olives, and the harvesting time. Olive oil should never be heated above 350F/177C and should be stored in a dark place at room temperature. The fresher the oil, the better its taste. In order to fully appreciate the flavors of gourmet quality extra virgin olive oil it is best used cold in salads, or for dipping crusty Italian bread.
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Authentic balsamic vinegar from the Italian provinces of Reggio Emilia and Modena is a highly valued and rare product made from the juice of Sauvignon, white Trebbiano, and Lambrusco grapes.
Genuine balsamic vinegar is available as Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (ABTM) and as Aceto Blasamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia, both of which are protected by EU laws governing the geographical origin and authenticity of the product. They are sold in specific 100ml bottles with color coded labels and caps indicating the age of the vinegar. Other products, which are often sold as “balsamic vinegar” or “aceto balsamico” are cheap imitations and have nothing in common with the authentic product. The label Aceto Balsamico di Modena is also governed by EU laws and is a good choice for every day use or when larger quantities of balsamic vinegar are called for, making the use of ABT too cost prohibitive.
The older the vinegar, the better its taste. The rich, syrup-like consistency of Acteo Balsamico Tradizionale is enhanced by its unparalleled combination of sweet and subtly acidic flavors. Its extraordinary taste pairs well with duck, parmigiano reggiano, carpaccio, vanilla ice cream, and fully ripe strawberries.
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Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil
The production of Styrian pumpkin seed oil dates back to the 18th century when farmers in the Austrian province of Steiermark (Styria) first pressed oil from the seeds of local pumpkins. Since the 19th century, a local variety of pumpkin with very soft seeds without husks has been used to make the oil. Pumpkin seed oil from Styria has been awarded the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, guaranteeing the authentic product made from Styrian pumpkins and produced in Styria. Cheap imitation products from China and other countries are far inferior in taste and quality to the authentic product.
The oil, which is rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E, has a deep, dark green color and a delicious distinctive nutty taste. Studies have shown that regular consumption is beneficial for prostate health. Pumpkin seed oil is mainly used as salad dressing, but is also delicious drizzled over creamy pumpkin soup, and its nutty flavor adds interesting notes to desserts.