I confess, twice in the last year, I have purchased a $17 bottle of balsamic vinegar from Fustini's Oils & Vinegars located in
. I didn't set out to do this, but after stumbling into their shop on a tour of Traverse City, and being able to taste test any number of vinegars, from the basic unflavored, to ones as esoteric as chocolate, I became an instant balsamic vinegar snob. The basic unflavored balsamic, which is aged for 18 years, is so sweet, so mellow, and so full of crisp flavor, that it is literally the only vinegar I've ever been able to put directly onto my salad undiluted and enjoy it like a salad dressing. Michigan
So I have to say, in my opinion, adding additional ingredients to this superior vinegar as I did when I made the "Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette" (page 99) was actually a detriment to enjoying this vinegar on it's own. Not that the vinaigrette wasn't good, it was! But I found myself wondering why I would want to do anything to mask the outstanding taste of the Fustini's. That being said, if you do have a vinegar that you have no problem adding other ingredients to, this makes a fine salad dressing. The recipe calls for ¼ cup olive oil; I used 6 tablespoons of water instead, and added ¼ teaspoon guar gum at the end to thicken it up. The guar gum does a great job of adding thickness and body to fat free salad dressings such as this, so you never miss the oil.