Spend the Money: Villa Manodori Balsamic

In the chef world, we are always on the look out for truly special ingredients.  One we at Sunday Dinner Club keep coming back to is

Villa Manodori Balsamic Vinegar

.  This vinegar is like a syrup - rich, mature, tangy, and intense.  The producer is celebrated Italian chef Massimo Bottura.  I used to live in New York and I was a fifth grade teacher.  I spent my evenings drinking and cooking my way through classic cookbooks and my weekends checking out all the markets and food New York has to offer.  I stumbled upon Villa Manodori vinegar at some upscale market and sampled it - blew me away.  Years later, I was lucky enough to meet Chef Bottura for a moment at a food show in NYC, and I think I may have scared him a bit - I was so damn excited to meet the guy who produced such an awesome product.  Try it out, it's pricey, but you won't need much and it'll make you happy.  Drizzle on fruit, ice cream, salad greens, steak, damn near anything.

Proof God Was Wrong

God must never have tried Tamworth Bacon from La Quercia in Iowa, because there is not a chance in hell it would be forbidden if he/she had. Super sweet, just the right amount of smoke, and a dense, great chew that is perfect for lardons, but also has nice crispness when sliced thin. Sunday Dinner has been using it all over the place.  Last week in a rabbit Fricassee and below in a carbonara. Herb and Kathy Eckhouse from La Quercia produce some of our favorite treats, from guanciale to pancetta to prosciutto.  Several years ago, I once happened to serve a slice of La Quercia Prosciutto to Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini, who was visiting the Green City Market on a trip from Italy.  He had heard we had a local and sustainable prosciutto from Iowa on our egg sandwich that day.  He apparently was skeptical about the quality of an American made prosciutto.  I handed him a slice and he carefully held it up to the sun, pressed it to his nose, breathed deep, and took a bite.  He was quiet, taking his time to eat the slice.  He finished, grinned, and said in broken English, "really from Iowa?"

Fresh Extruded Spaghetti Carbonara, Soft Pullet Yolk, La Quercia Tamworth Bacon - It hurts to look.

Fresh Extruded Spaghetti Carbonara, Soft Pullet Yolk, La Quercia Tamworth Bacon - It hurts to look.