Olive Oils & Vinegar
Hic! has a range of Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars for sale online by the bottle. Increasingly popular these condiments are becoming must-haves for any aspiring chef or gourmand and we are happy to offer an array of luxury oils alongside a selection of highly prized and aged balsamic vinegars for you to choose from.
Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's mainly made in the Mediterranean, primarily in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece (though countries such as South Africa and New Zealand also produce it). Much like wine-making, climate, soil and the way the olives are harvested and pressed all have an impact on an oil's character.
Olive oil is assessed on three criteria - fruitiness, bitterness and pepperiness - the flavour, smell and colour can vary radically, both according to its origin, as well as whether it's extra virgin (the finest grade) or not.
Generally speaking, the hotter the country, the more robust the flavour of the oil. It is also possible to flavour olive oil with herbs and spices by steeping them in the oil for ten days or so (though chilli needs far less time).
True Balsamic vinegar is an artisan product from Modena, in Emilia Romagna, Italy, and is made with grape must (juice) that is simmered to make a concentrate, allowed to ferment, then, for a minimum of 12 years, matured in barrels of progressively decreasing size, made from different woods in order to impart different flavours. The result is dark, rich and syrupy and to be used very sparingly.
The real thing will be marked with 'tradizionale' and/or DOC and will be expensive. You can also buy the more affordable, industrially made 'aceto balsamico di Modena', which uses vinegar as well as grape must; as it's not aged for so long, the flavours won't be as strong.