Stock Up: Brighten up your spring dishes with vinegars and oil

El Majuelo sherry vinegar from Barcelona Wine Bar. Courtesy of Barcelona Wine Bar
Caption
El Majuelo sherry vinegar from Barcelona Wine Bar. Courtesy of Barcelona Wine Bar

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Spring salads, lighter soups, vinaigrettes and marinades: Brighten up your cooking with these vinegars, and a new oil.

El Majuelo sherry vinegar from Barcelona Wine Bar

Sherry vinegar hits that sweet spot — rich, but not sweet like a balsamic — and is just what you need when you want flavor, but not too much acid. It’s what you want to finish your gazpacho, or to brighten up your chimichurri and romesco sauces. But, don’t restrict sherry vinegar to your favorite Spanish dishes. It’s a kitchen staple, and it’s the house vinegar at Atlanta’s Barcelona Wine Bar. Now, it is possible for us to buy the same sherry vinegar the restaurant uses. It’s the El Majuelo brand, from a company that’s been producing sherry vinegar in Jerez, Spain, since 1864. They sell regular vinegar, the real workhorse in your kitchen, but also reserva, aged in oak barrels for at least two years. Trying both is an interesting lesson in how aging matures a vinegar.

$10 per 250-milliliter bottle of Vinagre de Jerez reserva or 750-milliliter bottle of Vinagre de Jerez. Available at barcelona-wine-bar-restaurant.myshopify.com, or purchase at the restaurant, 240 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta, or 1085 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta.

Pinot noir vinegar from the Vinegar Co-op. Courtesy of J. Shields
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Pinot noir vinegar from the Vinegar Co-op. Courtesy of J. Shields

Credit: J. Shields

Credit: J. Shields

Pinot noir vinegar from the Vinegar Co-op

Juliana Shields sells wine for a living, and is a self-described “passionate home cook.” Faced with leftover wine, she decided six years ago to experiment with making vinegar. Her first home experiments were a success, and she now works out of a commercial kitchen in Duluth. This isn’t vinegar that she inoculates with a “mother,” or other cultures. Acetobacter bacteria converts the alcohol in the wine to acid — and vinegar. Sometimes, it works; sometimes, it doesn’t. That means, what she has available varies, and will vary in flavor from batch to batch. We tried her small-batch pinot noir vinegar. It smells delicious, as if you just could drink it down, but this is intense stuff. Shields recommends it as a finishing vinegar, perfect for when you need a hint of acid to elevate the flavors in a dish. We drizzled a little into a soup we made from sweet potatoes and greens, and we made a vinaigrette with this vinegar, shallots, avocado oil and a tiny bit of honey to round out the flavors.

$16 per 8.5-ounce bottle. Available at Grant Park Market, Staplehouse, Storico Fresco and Elemental Spirits. facebook.com/The-Vinegar-Co-op

Sunflower oil from Oliver Farm. Courtesy of Oliver Farm
Caption
Sunflower oil from Oliver Farm. Courtesy of Oliver Farm

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Sunflower oil from Oliver Farm

Clay Oliver started his pressed oil business in 2012, with a plan to grow sunflowers and press the seeds for oil. Nine years later, he’s selling sunflower oil across the country, and his oils have won awards. We’re always intrigued with the variety of things he’s pressing, like okra seeds, benne seeds, pumpkin seeds and pecans, but the sunflower oil is the one we buy by the gallon. This isn’t tasteless, colorless canola or vegetable oil, but a rich yellow oil, with the distinct flavor of sunflower seeds. We love it in salad dressing, but we use it to saute all kinds of vegetables and meats. The Olivers also make sunflower oil infused with rosemary, oregano, basil, red pepper, black pepper, garlic and salt. It was born as an oil for dipping, but add a little lemon juice, and you’ve got an easy vinaigrette.

Plain sunflower oil available at $3 for 2 ounces, $12 for 16 ounces or $22 for a gallon. Infused sunflower oil ranges from $10 per 8-ounce bottle to $27 for a gallon. Purchase at oliverfarm.com, or at the Cook’s Warehouse, Pine Street Market, Oak Grove Market, Staplehouse, Freedom Farmers Market on the second and fourth Saturdays, Grant Park Farmers Market and the Treat Yo’Shelf booth at all Community Farmers Markets.

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