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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

February 16, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Vinegar love: a delicious fix, culinary and otherwise

Yesterday, I enjoyed the company of the world’s next food star, 13-year-old Abigail Fishman of Port Angeles. (You don’t know her yet, but trust me, you will.) Together we played “Me and My Shadow” — with Abigail tagging along as I interviewed the subjects of an upcoming profile, proving her proficiency playing “Name that tune!” when I taped my KPLU radio show, sitting in on a meeting at The Seattle Times office, touring the premises, and not incidentally eating a lot of banh mi.

At day’s end, this eighth grader-extraordinaire handed me a much appreciated gift: a bottle of her favorite vinegar. “It’s amazing! I put it on everything,” she said, having no idea that vinegar is my idea of the best hostess-gift imaginable. And this morning, after tasting the stuff from a spoon, I’m now as addicted to that fig-flavored balsamico as she is, and more than happy to add it to my collection. (Hey, Abigail: Try it on vanilla ice cream with a hit of freshly cracked black pepper, or in a glass of sparkling mineral water!)

A “small” sampling of vinegars from my collection: a bottle for every (and any) occasion.

So tell me: If I went rummaging around in your kitchen cabinets, what would I find, vinegar-wise? The bottle that gets heaviest use in my house:

That would be Trader Joe’s balsamico (it’s Nate’s favorite). I also move a lot of rice vinegar (great when splashed over my version of the Persian version of Salad-e Shirazi) and I’m especially fond of the Agro di Mosto (an Italian-accented gift from my pal David). I always keep a lot of apple cider vinegar on hand (used to great effect in a brine for this pork chop recipe — and for offing fruit flies), and of course there’s the workhorse classic: the distilled white I use for no-knead bread.

The plain white stuff is also available in the giant economy-size jug we keep in the basement for practical applications, like cleaning out our new dishwasher so I don’t have to call the repair man again and pay him $180 to tell me my “backup” problem wasn’t the dishwasher: it was the oily schmutz in our appliance’s pipeline. His suggestion? Run a cup of distilled white vinegar through the dishwasher monthly: it’s the best, cheapest fix there is. Here’s a how-to:

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