The traditional Aceto Balsamico is a precious thing, lovingly cared for years and years before it is ready to enhance our meals.
In fact, the thick and syrupy Balsamico is aged in small barrels from about 12 to 25 years. The years spent in aging could be enough to give the sense of value that is in every small cruet designed to bottle balsamic vinegar.
A Museum for Balsamic
I visited some friends in Castelfranco Emilia, near Spilamberto where there is the Museo del Balsamico Tradizionale. This is also the region where Massimo Bottura operates; yes, the one that entertained us during the Quarantine with his shows on Instagram.
My friends, like most people in this area, make their own Balsamico, and so I was lucky enough to visit the “acetaia.”
To my great surprise, the “acetaia” is keptin the attic, not in a cellar as one might expect. All the small wooden barrels are aligned in the attic, where the drastic change in temperatures of summer and winter make the magic of the aging, along with careful decanting from one barrel to another, from the bigger barrel to a smaller, and so on.
After 12 years of patient care we get the black gold, this is called “affinato”, and after 25 years we get the extravecchio, (extra-aged).
I was given a small bottle of their precious liquid, and I must say that is excellent, it enhances a simple salad delightfully.
Thank you Remo!
If you are not so lucky to have friends to accommodate you, there is always the Trattoria del Campazzo, Massimo’s very first restaurant, in Nonantola, where one can also visit Nonantola Abbey; an extraordinary place where historical events, architecture, Gregorian music and artistic expressions in general have been combined with the Christian faith to serve and train man through a 1300-year history.
A complex where you can feel the Italian Middle Ages, the abbey was founded in 752 by one abbot Anselmo; it is all very well documented in the parchments of the Archive.
SPILAMBERTO, CASTELFRANCO EMILIA, NONANTOLA