Gourmet Living: Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Review #IGPInitialPromo #GourmetLivingBalsamic

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Some things are beautiful and I always admire a gorgeous looking bottle. Presentation matters and especially when purchasing a product that retails higher than it’s counterparts but that is if you look at vinegar as plainly an acid, disregarding origin, grape used in production, to aging. This can get blurred and sometimes on purpose by the manufacture. We all want what we pay for and that is something I was critical of when I had the opportunity to review Gourmet Living’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. I love Balsamic and use it almost on a daily basis in it’s “raw form” or to enhance the taste of sauces to meats. Nothing tastes like it and it may look like wine but a good tasting Balsamic will make you forget about wine all together.

When I received the parcel from Gourmet Living, the box was beautiful with gold colored foil highlights and it almost felt like suede when touched. I open it and I see a beautiful red wax seal on top, and the bottle is as noteworthy as the rest. Every detail has been thought of but in the end I seek what is inside the bottle. Does the vinegar have a pleasant taste and will it play well with the others, meaning I don’t want an acidic pungent base that overpowers all the other flavor notes and even the smallest drop makes me just taste vinegar.

I figured the best test was trying it as-is and making a simple at home Vinaigrette. I never buy dressings and just make my own because as much as I want the dressing in the bottle to last, everything a manufacture adds to make it long living also makes it poor tasting. I save money and fridge space, plus I can adjust my dressings by the meals I am serving that day. A Vinaigrette made at home will always be friendly to a waist-line too.

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Retail Price Point: $36.95 for a 8.5 fluid ounce bottle via Amazon

You will look and notice years and size of bottles fluctuate drastically when it comes to Balsamic. I thought the more the ounces combined with greater years, makes the price tag higher, but that did not remain factual. Some expensive brands had poor ratings along with the low quantity of ounces they gave. I get it that aging takes storing, time and care. This is not even what it takes to make the initial fluid in the first place. Boiling a product down reduces the quantity and intensifies the flavor but it depends on the cook and the “starter product”, if even the final product will be worthy. Balsamic may look thick and smell sometimes strong but it delivers sweet notes when done well. As it ages the flavor matures and the wood that is used for storage will also affect the vinegar. The Balsamic from Gourmet Living also has an IGP certification that has certain criteria that must be met for a bottle to pass and reach the seal. Think of it like a diamond and how certain outside agencies will only certify if certain standards are met, down to origin of the stone. The vinegar from Gourmet Living is from Modena and had the proper labeling I have seen with products of this kind, so they passed the visual test and now to how it tastes.

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Taste Test:
I made my dressing and I always taste before adding salt. The Balsamic had a pleasant sweet taste without bitter after notes. You could pick up what the wood had added a distinct flavor to the vinegar, and it just intensifies that aroma you get when using the product and tasting it. I actually found this vinegar very pleasant and for the price, it was a fair price point. I have only been able to get a better price point at Whole Foods on 2 bottles that were being cleared out and that was a once in a lifetime opportunity. A bottle of Balsamic lasts because you use a small amount. Think of when you use demi glace and how a little goes a long way. The same applies here and that makes it a worthy purchase in my book!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Gourmet Living.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Garlic Gold: Double Crusted Cheese sticks made with Marinated Mozzarella #Recipe

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I’m so in love with the Garlic Gold brand, that I made another easy recipe to enjoy. These go with everything from pizza, wings, to even a light Italian dinner.  I even pair them with a dinner salad and these sub for my croutons.

Let’s Begin…..

  • Large Mason Jar
  • 1/4 cup of Garlic Gold’s Red Wine Vinaigrette
  • 8 to 10 sticks cut from Mozzarella Cheese (from a semi-soft block, not the soft fresh type)
  • 1/4 cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup of plain Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of plain Bread Crumbs
  • Dash of Garlic Gold Nuggets
  • 1 egg
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • Optional- 1/4 teaspoon of chili flakes if you want to make Fire Crackers. Add the flakes to the marinade.
  • Peanut Oil (or one of your choice) for frying

Take your Mason Jar and add 1/4 cup of the Garlic Gold Vinaigrette. Take your cheese sticks and close the jar, give it a toss and lay it down in the fridge.

I marinated mine overnight and I would walk by the fridge and shake it a few times. You can use a small jar if you wish but I wanted to not fill the jar and waste vinaigrette, so I opted to not filling and used this shaking method.

You will notice the oil will solidify so take the cheese out an hour before cooking and allow the marinade to liquefy and every now and then give the jar a shake.

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Take out a plate (I use a glass pie plate) and use that as your flouring station and another dish for the bread crumbs (both the panko and plain combined). Add salt and pepper to taste to the bread crumbs and a dash of the Garlic Gold Nuggets.

Take cheese out of jar (reserve the vinaigrette) and dip them in the flour, rolling and making sure to not forget to dab the tips too.

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Once the cheese is floured, dip the cheese back into the vinaigrette and then roll into the bread crumbs.

You will notice that not much will stay, but this is the first dip that will insure you have that great flavor. The flour will soak it up and give it a beautiful layer and crunch. Do all the bread sticks and let them relax in the bread crumbs.

Crack open the egg and whisk.

Dip each bread stick in the egg and back into the bread crumbs. I lay the cheese sticks on a plate because they will be relaxing in the freezer for 20-30 minutes after they have received their second coat. This is the coat that will stick really well and just continue until all cheese sticks are nicely covered and coated.

Put plate in freezer and depending how cold yours is, it only takes 20 to 30 minutes for them to set nicely. This buys you time when frying and also allows the breading to set.

Once the above time has lapsed, it’s time to fry! I use Peanut Oil for how it tends to fry everything really crispy. You can use any frying oil of your choice. Heat up the oil and this is a quick dish to make.

It takes less than 30 seconds to get golden. I take about 2 to 3 sticks at a time because I used a small frying pan but you can use a larger one (I don’t like wasting oil either 🙂 ). You just drop them in and you can see my oil comes up half-way and then once they are golden and this happens in a few seconds, just flip and finish.

I placed my fried cheese sticks on parchment to rest. Serve immediately and enjoy.

If you are frying more than the above quota, no worries as you can use a pan with parchment to rewarm them. Again, this happens quick as we are dealing with cheese. Heat your oven to 375 degrees and set your cheese sticks on a cookie sheet (with parchment) and heat until warm and gooey. This can take 5 minutes and I do this with leftovers (from the fridge). You can serve with a pesto and I opted for a eggplant and vegetable marinara sauce. The cheese sticks are flavorful and you can make these into “fire crackers” by adding the chili flakes to your marinade.

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You can also make this easy dish by getting your own Garlic Gold Products at:

  • On-line– http://garlicgold.com/
  • Visit Garlic Gold on Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/GarlicGold
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/garlicgold
  • See the pretty Garlic Gold products and the other dishes you can create onPinterest– http://www.pinterest.com/garlicgold/

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I received the above product free of charge from Garlic Gold.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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