Doing a little new years organizing and came across the menu from the Oil & Vinegar Dinner we enjoyed last July at The National in downtown Athens, GA. The dinner was a benefit for Slow Food Athens with wines, balsamic vinegars and extra virgin olive oils from The Healthy Gourmet located at 1097 Baxter Street in Athens. Needless to say….this was quite a tasty collaboration!
Oil & Vinegar Dinner
crafted by Chef Peter Dale
The dinner started with warm bread with Georgia olive oil made in South Georgia with arbequina olives grown in Georgia and California. This oil is popping up at specialty food stores all over the south and rightly so. It is delicious when used for salads and for dipping. Our first course was a beautiful, light dish. Local tomatoes, burrata mozzarella & basil with L’Arrigo Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil from a small estate just south of Florence in Scandicci Italy which dates way back to 1437. Seven varieties of olives are used in the blend …each with their own particular flavor and fragrance. Randall Abney who did a wonderful talk about each oil during the dinner says he’s importing this oil into Athens and this is the first time it has ever been sold in the southern US! Balsamic Vinegar from Modena distributed by Wine Country Kitchens paired nicely on this plate.
local tomatoes, burrata mozzarella, basil. Olive oil: L’Arrigo, Italy. Balsamic: Wine Country Kitchens, California
I loved that our first plate was paired with a Prosecco …which is my favorite bubbly to sip! Our second course featured olive oil made from four olives grown in the highlands of Chile and a dark, sweet balsamic vinegar from Modena. Chef Peter paired these with La Quercia prosciutto, local melon and endive …and a Rosato wine…simplicity at its best!
La Quercia prosciutto local melon, endive. Olive oil: Olave, Chile
Balsamic: Villa Manodori Artigianale, Italy
Next plate was my favorite. I eat a lot of salmon…and this was the best I’ve ever had. I wish my picture was better–dang iPhone. The salmon was seared to create a crispy top and served along with local cucumbers. A light tasting Spanish olive oil, a sweet balsamic from Cavalli, Italy and a citrusy Ribolla wine rounded out this perfect plate.
Seared wild sockeye salmon, local cucumbers.
Olive oil: Soler Romero, Spain.
Balsamic: Cavalli, Italy.
And….there was more! Fork tender beef tenderloin with parmesan and my favorite green- arugula! The beef was paired with a spicy oil from San Giuliano, Italy and my favorite balsamic -the Leonardi Crema di Aceto Balsamico, Italy. I raved over this vinegar so much …my husband ended up getting me a bottle of it for my birthday a few days later! Everyone in my house knows…THAT’S MAMA’S BOTTLE! NO TOUCH! The wine was equally great –a Chianti, 95% sangiovese and 5% cabernet sauvignon ….delish!
slow-cooked beef tenderloin, arugula, parmesan.
Olive oil: San Giuliano, Italy.
Balsamic: Leonardi Crema di Aceto Balsamico, Italy.
The dining room was all a chatter with happy folks sharing their delight in all the tastes and the fine company. We were educated and entertained by Randall Abney, who knows as much about all these oils and vinegars as I do about my three children. We were given notes to take home and in them Randall says: “The oil and vinegar stores that are popping up all over are selling flavored oils and vinegars at high prices, and for the most part, not EVOO or balsamic vinegar. Shop at a store, like The Healthy Gourmet, where you can taste oils and vinegars from estates, not from factories.” 95% of vinegar labeled ‘balsamic’ in the US is actually made from red wine vinegar, with caramel coloring. Randall says there’s no such thing as white balsamic vinegar.
W. Randall Abney
I was happily surprised to come back from the ladies room to find my fifth course waiting with a tiny pink candle lit to celebrate my fortieth birthday! Stone fruits, vanilla gelato with a sprinkling of biscotti crumbs with dots of balsamic. A perfect end to a perfectly paired night! Happy Birthday to me!
stone fruits, vanilla gelato, biscotti crumbs.
Balsamic: Leonardi Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale, Italy.
And….I cleaned my plate…. 😉
I declare…it was GOOD.