Posts Tagged ‘vinegar’

Last spring, Sandra and Pat were in Italy, and on one adventure, they toured a company that is very serious about the art of making balsamic vinegar. They learned that a special barrel is started when a new baby is born and ages slowly for years under careful surveillance.

From the website: “Boni’s Acetaia is located, together with its almost 100 years tradition, in the first hills just outside of Modena, in Solignano di Castelvetro. Grandfather Arturo, at the beginning of XX century, started taking lovely care of wooden barrels in which he produced Traditional Balsamic Vinegar in its acetaia in Castelvetro. …

“There are many varieties of Balsamic Vinegars that differ one from the other because of the age and aromas. Boni’s Acetaia apart from Balsamic Vinegars aged in casks made with commonly used woods offers precious products aged in casks made of special local and now rare woods.”

On their next trip, Sandra says, she hopes to get to the new balsamic vinegar museum, also located in Modena.

From the museum site: “The visitor enters a section in which he can see the processing steps for the production of Balsamic vinegar, from the grape harvest … The visitor can see the tools used in the grape collection, the pressing machines and the vats, the copper pot ready for the [cooking] and the barrels under construction. In the attic reconstruction the visitor can smell the balsamic perfume of the vinegar in the barrels, among which the barrels of a very ancient set of vessels belonging to the Fabriani family, which lived here. …

“Finally comes the aging stage, during which the vinegar’s characteristics reach true perfection. These three stages take place in a series of barrels of different woods (cherry, chestnut, mulberry, oak, false acacia, ash tree and juniper) and decreasing size. Each type of wood gives to the vinegar a specific characteristic such as a certain colour, flavour or taste.

“Only after 12 or 25 years of maturing the product reaches that surprising balance of aromas and flavours that allows it to bear the title of ‘protected origin denomination’ (DOP). Walking into the following room the visitor can admire the tools used for the annual operations to carry on in the Acetaia. Here there is a 1785 bottle of Balsamic Vinegar, and its content was tasted a few years ago.” More.

I am learning there is more to vinegar than meets the eye.

Photo: Boni Balsamic Vinegar, Italy

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The Design Museum Boston — which, like Erik, has participated in the start-up accelerator program called MassChallenge — launched a challenge of its own. The results of the Street Seats Design Challenge are now available to all, and believe me, you have never seen park benches like these.

Each imaginative public outdoor seating creation is harnessed to a kiosk that gives background on the designer, the materials the designer chose, the ideas behind the competition, and the sponsors.

You can go from bench to bench along Fort Point Channel like Goldilocks testing them out (too hard? too soft? ju-ust right?).

Here is a bench I can see from my office, the Wright bench. It is made of a reconstituted wood that lasts for decades without treating and is combined with a bike rack. Designer Eugene Duclos of Appalachian State University in Cary, North Carolina, explains his approach in the video.

Be sure to check out the other benches at the museum’s Street Seats site, here. One bench is made of rope. Another lets you sit on plants. All are beautiful.

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Some years ago, the John Adams family biographer Paul Nagel introduced me to physician/poet Norbert Hirschhorn. Paul told me that Bert was on the team that helped save thousands of lives in Third World countries simply by distributing water to which sugar and electrolytes had been added. (A National Institutes of Health paper references Bert’s 1973 research on “oral glucose electrolyte solution for all children with acute gastroenteritis” here.)

A special NY Times science supplement on Sept. 27, 2011, “Small Fixes,” reminded me of Bert and the notion that small innovations can have a huge impact.

Among the great stories in the supplement. is this one about Thailand’s success fighting cervical cancer with vinegar.

It turns out that precancerous spots on the cervix turn white when brushed with vinegar. “They can then be immediately frozen off with a metal probe cooled by a tank of carbon dioxide, available from any Coca-Cola bottling plant.” The complete procedure, which can be handled by a nurse in one visit, has been used widely in Thailand, where there are a lot of nurses in rural areas.

In Brighton, Massachusetts, Harvard’s George Whitesides founded Diagnositcs for All to commercialize his inventions, including a tiny piece of paper that substitutes for a traditional blood test for liver damage. Costing less than a penny, “it requires a single drop of blood, takes 15 minutes and can be read by an untrained eye: If a round spot the size of a sesame seed on the paper changes to pink from purple, the patient is probably in danger.” Read the Times article.

Amy Smith at MIT is another one who thinks big by thinking small. Read about her Charcoal Project, which saves trees in poor countries by using vegetable waste to make briquettes for fuel.

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