Modena, Italy is a home of gourmet paradise where Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena are made. I went to Modena for a second time last year for MODENA in Fiore and also for seeking out a small producer of traditional balsamic vinegars.
Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena is something most gourmet visitors to Modena would like to embrace and to explore the hidden truth behind the differences of several brand names available in the market. The authentic taste of Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena would definitely open up your world. I was a bit excited of where to go and what to expect, but Modena Tourist officer helped suggest that I should go to see Acetaia Marisa Barbieri Giuliani which location is still in the city centre’s vicinity.
For those who are all alone in the universe with a little budget, when you are already in Modena, don’t panic! Join a nomad club, book a time of your visit at Modena’s Tourist Office, and then grab a taxi to visit Acetaia Marisa Barbieri Giuliani ! It is not far from a city centre and you can walk back with ease. You can also go there by just walking (back and forth) too , if you have lots of energy. It was one of my fondest memories of the year. You will love it, I am sure.
Delectable moment as expected, I feel addicted of a rich full flavor right after my first sip of a traditional balsamic vinegar. How could I describe this succulent taste? The color is dark brown. It tasted like smooth and subtle syrupy medicine from God!! I was lucky to meet a daughter of Marisa Barbieri Giuliani, Franca Giuliani ( see : left) who was my first gourmet guide in Modena. Franca led me to taste her 12-year old bottle and a more blended 25-year old bottle. It was a real God-given gift to the world ! It all happened at an attic under the roof of Acetaia Marisa Barbieri Giuliani’s house. Resembling the art of wine making, precious like champagne or truffles, producing traditional balsamic vinegar is something really precious according to Franca. “There is nothing like Tradizionale..”
“This is something we have inside our family,” say Franca Giuliani, as she welcomes me inside the attic where many century old barrels of her family’s valuable balsamic vinegars are kept. There were several awards, certificates of expertise as well as acclaims on the walls since Marisa Barbieri Giulian is one of the taste masters of Consortium for traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena. According to Franca, Madam Marisa has contributed a lot in preserving old traditions in making genuine traditional balsamic vinegars and establishing the recognition from EU. “We are proud of her and our family’s tradition”, says Franca.
Unlike the industrial balsamic vinegars, the grape “must” from local areas around Modena is used and she has to follow the traditional way of producing traditional balsamic vinegars as approved by the consortium. Franca is so proud of her family’s tradition of producing traditional balsamic vinegar which she will passionately continue to hand down from one generation to the next. “When I got married, I inherited the set of barrels as the dowry”, says Franca Giuliani. She continues, “When my three children were born, I also started a set of barrels for each of them”.
In Modena, each family has its own secret balsamic vinegar recipes. Considered as her family tradition, a lot of effort and patience have been put to preserve the traditional way of producing balsamic vinegar through the aging process.
“The traditional technique takes 25 years to get a real good one which is made entirely different from the commercial balsamic vinegar in the supermarket you normally see the bottles in different shapes,” says Franca Giuliani.
A set of barrels (at least five wooden casks) called as “Battery of wooden barrels” is constructed from different woods in a sequence of different barrel sizes ranging from the largest to the smallest. Each cask has the cloth-covered opening on top to allow evaporation. Franca said , “we use only the cooked must. Must is the juices from the grapes which you need to filter it and cook for at least 12 hours. Then, they are reduced. Cooked must is filled on the biggest barrel after you take out the matured vinegars from the smallest one. This topping-up process is repeated every year during Feb-April. Once per year, you get only one and a half litre of matured balsamic vinegar per one set of barrels. We get only very small amount through this natural fermentation process.” “Modena climate is very suitable for making traditional balsamic vinegar because of its microclimate with hot temperature of summer and freezing cold winter at the uninsulated attic.”, says Franca.
Genuine affinity of her family tradition and Modena’s pride is the answer for all the hard work to preserve old tradition of producing Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena. Franca Giuliani told me, “ I am very lucky because my mom (Marisa Barbieri Giuliani) and my grandfather produced traditional balsamic vinegars and they had a lot of very old barrels. My mom is very skillful and she follows the old tradition. She was one of first 35 traditional balsamic vinegar master tasters.
The following hints from Franca Giuliani might be useful when you look for a real Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena:
* Distinctive bottle shape with seal of authenticity
* Produce the right way under the approval of consortium of experts in Modena.
Franca also shared her tips of how to enjoy Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena. She uses it basically with everything as she was brought up with Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena. She said Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena is so tasty and she puts just only a few drop on flakes of Parmigiano reggiano, as well as on pork, beef, fish or even scallops. She drizzles Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena over frittata at the end of her cooking (with a lid on top), and then cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Franca and her family still preserve her family tradition and Modena’s cultural heritage proudly and passionately.
It is a great pleasure to have a chance to indulge in such a succulent moment in Modena and brought back some for my appreciation of life.
When you know the differences , then you will know what to choose for yourself.
Acetaia Marisa Barbieri Giuliani
Bononcini Via 88, 41124 Modena
Tel: 059 30 57 17