My Classy Cheating Confession: Gastronomic Glaze
When my fabulous former neighbor returned from Paris having successfully smuggled Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese into the States, we knew it was going to be a party.
And party we did. After leaving the contraband Vacherin out overnight, it was exceptionally soft and bore that hallmark of quality cheese, the stink of smelly feet. It was the rustic-looking wild cousin of brie—the one with the beard who gets wasted at your sister’s wedding and hits on the bridesmaids because he knows you’re not going to say shit about it.
But the real star of the party was the goat cheese garnished with crumbled walnuts and fig balsamic gastronomic glaze (glassa gastronomica if you’re pretentious, Italian, or both). It was the perfect tangy and sweet complement to the cheese. She simply took a log of chevre, split it in half lengthwise and glazed up the interior, putting it back together like a wonderful cheese sandwich with balsamic candy in the middle. Gastronomic glaze: garnish of the gods.
Well, after six or seven bottles of Bordeaux and my incessant harping on the brilliance of this balsamic glaze, Jan admitted that she had brought back a couple bottles of plain balsamic glaze from a French grocery. In her drunken state she offered me one, which I’m sure she now regrets.
Really this is just a fancy term for balsamic reduction, although it isn’t the light-brown kind you might get to dress your salad. This is the dark, velvety, slightly sweet, boiled-down essence of balsamic. Unfortunately for the purists out there, many of the commercial varieties contain additives such as sugar, corn syrup, and/or thickeners like xanthan gum, but they certainly don’t spoil the fun. You can find the glaze in many different flavors here, and a bottle doesn’t need to run you more than $10.
The other great thing about this product is the thick consistency and nozzle action that permits fancy plate designs. You really can’t go wrong. Last night I roasted beats (60-80 minutes @ 375 wrapped in foil) I took a dollop of quark cheese from Keswick Creamery, a pinch of salt, and some glaze, and I slaughtered it right on the cutting board.
Put it on ice cream, too. Or make it yourself.