Herbally Yours, Oak Park's Michelin-Recommended Vinegar

I just don't need vinegar that often...though I wish I did

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By David Hammond

I like Herbally Yours, and the guys who run it: they so enthusiastic about vinegar.

Problem is: I just don't need vinegar that often.

Whenever I use vinegar, it's in relatively small quantities. Moreover, usually, when I make salad dressing, I use fresh lemon juice, So my need for vinegar is limited.

But recently I stopped by to talk with owner Jim Vitalo, who the 2013 Michelin Guide praised for having "amazing, subtle…herb-infused vinegars."

I bought a bottle of red-colored basil-oregano vinegar that I found to be marvelously light and delicately flavored. The little sprigs of oregano in there are, Vitalo told me, mostly for decoration: the actual infusion of herbs into vinegar happen in the process of making the stuff, and to flavor a bottle you'd need more than the slip of herb that's actually sitting in the liquor.

Vitalo also warned me that I should not be alarmed if a small "plug" developed in the top of the bottle. Because his vinegars, he said, "are organic: no preservatives are added," it's possible that the vinegar might naturally produce a "mother," a little growth in the top, which is not harmful and can be just tossed out. Such "mothering" is, his literature explained, "the badge of authenticity," and a sure sign that you have a natural product.

Throughout the summer Vitalo features wood chunks that could be used to add flavor to BBQ, and he's also promising that soon he'll be offering BBQ rubs.

 

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