It started last week when we had some colleagues over for dinner, and in the spirit of The Cure, I decided to finally crack open that bottle of cherry balsamic I picked up at the Florence central market last June. What had I been saving it for?
Wanting to truly taste it, we simply drizzled it over some great New York state vanilla ice cream from Van Leeuwen. That's it. It was incredible. The tartness of the balsamic mingles with the sweet, creaminess of the ice cream. The flavors don't fight, they mate.
The key to this "recipe" — and this almost goes without saying for any simple recipe, meaning one with just a few ingredients — is to use the best-quality ingredients you can find.
Get local, all-natural vanilla ice cream if you can. If not, make it yourself. As for the vinegar, no need to travel to Italy. These days, step into any gourmet market and the array of aged balsamics is akin to panty-hose choices at a department store. Whatever you do, avoid the commercially made fake stuff found on super-market shelves. This is a time to splurge. And by "splurge" I mean you'll be paying more than $2.99 for a bottle. Team up with a neighbor, buy a small bottle, or save your pennies. It's worth it. No gourmet shop in the neighborhood? Try online retailers like Zingerman's or Dean & Deluca.
A few scoops best-quality vanilla ice cream
A spoonful of best-quality aged balsamic vinegar
Scoop ice cream into serving bowl. Drizzle with vinegar and serve immediately.
Now you too can be fancy even in the face of a busy weeknight, like the night before the pre-school Halloween parade.
Check out Conti, the family-run business in Florence's Central Market that ships internationally. This is where I picked up my special bottle of Cherry Balsamic.