Guilt-free flavor: gourmet vinegars

After a trip to the Crescent City Farmer’s Market this morning (highlight: strawberry popsicle), Alysse and I headed to the Rouses downtown to pick up some other groceries.  You know how I said I had found my favorite grocery store?  I take it back.  I have now found my favorite grocery store.  This place has a hydroponic farm on top, incredible prepared foods, and we were greeted with a sample of an incredible salad, prepared with their selection of Crescendo vinegars, spices, and oils.  Now, both being dietetic interns, there is pretty much nothing better to get us hooked than salad.  Especially a salad with extra veggies (squash and zucchini) thrown on top.  The veggies had been sauteed in orange oil (or “errrnj errl”, as our Cajun chef said it – weirdest accent) with citrus salt, pine nuts, and orange zest – talk about delicious!  The best part came next: sensing our curiosity, he offered us samples of just about everything in the Crescendo product line.

So. Many. Flavors!

We tried many, including a beer vinegar and a lemon-grape-ginger (or something like that), but my favorite was a honey balsamic that was just incredible.  These vinegars tasted like tart candy, and each was so distinct -I stood there, sample spoon in hand, dreaming up the incredible salads and marinades that I could create if I had an unlimited vinegar budget.  Instead, I opted for a tiny bottle of the honey and went on my way.

My parents think I’m weird for being such a vinegar lover, but they add a complexity of flavor to dishes that would otherwise be bland and boring.  Vinegars are a fat free way to take your salad up a notch (with these, you wouldn’t even need to add oil), add that something extra to hearty fall soups like lentil, split pea, and french onion, and can give meats a tasty zing for nearly no calories at all.

I find that people often have an aversion to vinegar because they automatically think of the harsh white vinegar they used to dye eggs or make baking soda volcanoes with as a kid, but there is a whole world of vinegars out there, and you can even flavor your own!  Here is a guide about how to do it.  Try herb-flavored vinegars for your favorite meat marinades, and fruit-flavored vinegars to add spunk to your salad.  Get creative!  And, while you’ve got all the supplies out, a volcano might be necessary – just for fun.

May thy volcano runneth over

 

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