The blending of balsamic vinegar with other ingredients yields a superior product greater than the vinegar itself. Hold on, I am not talking about the ancient aged balsamic vinegar. I am talking about a young everyday balsamic, the one you reach for when making a vinaigrette or when dressing some beautiful tomatoes. The blending of the balsamic vinegar with fruits and vegetables yields a mixture of vinegar and juices that is less astringent than balsamic in the raw. That flavorful liquid can be interpreted as a broth, liquor or light dressing which can be eaten as either a sauce or a soup. We wanted to capture that essence and use it as an element in a dish. To do so, we made a balsamic consommé, flavored with soy, yuzu, balsamic and caramel. The resulting liquid communicates the essence of a marriage between balsamic vinegar and citrus with an underlying kick of umami. Since tomato season is still a few months away and our foie gras stash is nonexistent, we opted to work on a dish with mushrooms and cheese. We took elf mushrooms and sliced them like steaks, scored them and then roasted the mushrooms in salted butter. It hit me today that roasting meaty, steak-like mushrooms in salted butter allows for the seasoning to permeate the flesh rather than seasoning the mushroom separately and letting the salt bounce off the fungi. And no, this is not an original thought, Alain Passard cooks most vegetables in salted butter, it just made sense this morning. We paired the cooked mushrooms with the balsamic consommé and a hot goat Gouda jelly.
Again we have a base from which we can explore further ideas. The goat Gouda jelly could easily be a hot elderflower yogurt jelly, the mushroom could be foie gras and well the balsamic could be the balsamic. Actually, I have plans for other vinegar consommes: sherry, rice vinegar, maple. This is merely the beginning.