Are you fascinated by the passage of time? I often find myself reminiscing of things past, of beautiful memories, of dear family, of sweets and tastes, embedded in luscious aromas. I also like to think of the connection between past and present, and of how these personal facets of time intertwine to make us who we are. Now that I think about it, most of this blog is a recollection of the past. Maybe I have been “in search of lost time” on this page for the last 10 years, without realizing it 🙂
I recently had the opportunity to think of past and present again, upon starting off a collaboration with Ponti, the beloved brand of authentic balsamic vinegar of Modena. A purveyor of gastronomic excellence rooted in a centuries-old tradition, Ponti reasserts itself in a world of change, blending experience and innovation seamlessly thanks to its outstanding commitment to quality.
According to Ponti, records show that the first to fall in love with balsamic vinegar was Emperor Henry III, who, in 1046, requested it from the fortress of Canossa. Subsequently, between the 12th and 14th centuries, associations for the protection of the recipe and its production methods were founded in the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena must be produced exclusively in the vinegar cellars of these provinces, using musts obtained from the 7 most cultivated grape varieties in Emilia Romagna (Lambrusco, Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Albana, Ancellotta, Fortana, Montuni), which guarantee perfect acidity and sugar content. Then, wine vinegar and a percentage of wine vinegar aged for a minimum of 10 years are added to the musts. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena matures in casks of noble wood in the vinegar cellars, in ideal temperature and aeration conditions.
I had an amazing time experimenting with Ponti’s superb products, making a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. On the savory side, tomato soup with Ponti has been on repeat 🙂 This year we have had a bumper crop of tomatoes, which I have been using in soups and salads, freezing the leftovers for the winter.
The picture below is a good representation of how we usually eat tomato soup, with homegrown basil, a drizzle of Ponti organic balsamic glaze, and freshly baked baguette. This is a scrumptious, silky, soulful soup that makes me happy. When life gives you tomatoes and Ponti balsamic glaze, you make tomato soup, or so I think 🙂
On the dessert side, I have been making fruit salads, trying to take advantage of the last fruits of summer, before they are gone for the year.
The creamy sweetness of Ponti’s organic glaze, made out of balsamic vinegar of Modena P.G.I. (Protected Geographical Indication) and cooked grape must, enriched the satisfying freshness of the thirst-quenching fruits, lingering on the palate. Amazing days require nothing more, just this subtle hint of magical sweetness- or so I think 🙂
Ponti have also graciously answered my questions about their company and products in the interview below.
1. Ponti has an amazing history founded on family, passion, and perseverance. Could you please share a list of defining moments in your company’s history?
There have been many significant moments in Ponti’s 240 year history!
Looking back from today, regarding FAMILY, an important time was the early 2000’s when first cousins and current CEO’s Lara and Giacomo Ponti agreed to commit together to international expansion by investing in Ponti USA and Ponti France affiliates. The 2 cousins are very different from each other, but respect each others’ opinions and priorities fully! They each manage different parts of the business, taking advantage of their individual strengths and weaknesses, to make the best impact on the future of Ponti for many generations to come. It is a true collaboration, and it is beautiful to see.
Regarding PASSION, I think a key moment was when the group purchased Modenaceti in 1991, a Balsamic Vinegar of Modena factory in Vignola (Modena). Their drive for all things Vinegar, and to be true leaders and innovators in the industry, led them to expand into this important category. Today Ponti is truly THE POINT OF REFERENCE for all things Vinegar! And they have grown the Ponti brand in the business to be the #1 selling Balsamic Vinegar of Modena on the planet!
Regarding PERSEVERANCE, I think looking at the U.S market is a perfect example of Ponti’s perseverance! It is a long, hard and VERY expensive battle to launch a brand in U.S. supermarkets today! You need patience, commitment and most importantly, perseverance! The Ponti family has believed in the U.S. market and despite all of the post-covid challenges that still continue today, is just as equally dedicated to its success as it was at the onset!
2. What is Protected Geographical Indication (P.G.I.), and why is it important?
PGI (IGP in Italy) is a European quality certification, similar to PDO or DOP, which ensures that only products from a specific geographical area can use that area’s name. IGP food products have to be produced, prepared or processed in a given geographic area. There are over 617 registered PGI/IGP products in total, 106 of them from Italy.
3. How do you pair Balsamic Vinegar of Modena with specific foods? Could you please share a few pairing recommendations?
A good rule of thumb is to pair the density of your Balsamic Vinegar with the dish/recipe. For example, for drizzling on ice cream or desserts, one might want a more viscous/dense product, and therefore a glaze or aged product might be more appropriate; while a less viscous/dense product would probably be desired for a salad dressing.
4. Do you have a favorite pairing? Why is it your favorite?
I really love to put the Ponti High Density Balsamic Vinegar of Modena on my breakfast in the morning, Greek yogurt, all natural granola, wild berries and fresh mint! It adds a beautiful balance and savory sweetness to the tanginess of the yogurt! It concentrates the berries and creates an underlying continuity in the dish.
5. Sustainability is a prominent value guiding your approach to doing business. How do you work to reduce waste production and water consumption?
Ponti has been focused on Sustainability for many, many decades now…long before it was fashionable to do so! We were the first Vinegar company in the world to apply for B Corp status! Our R&D teams in Italy are dedicated to new strategies for minimizing energy and raw materials consumption, as well as waste production. We continuously seek ways to improve our packaging and quality standards will reducing our footprint! For example, constant evaluation of packaging materials: recycled plastic, less plastic, fully recyclable glass; We also blow all of our squeezable glaze bottles onsite to reduce transportation, fuel consumption, and our carbon footprint. We also removed the plastic covering on our glazes and moved to a Tamper-evident tab, resulting in significant saving of plastic waste.
6. Your products exhibit a dynamic blend of tradition and innovation. How do you stay true to tradition while approaching innovation?
Staying true to tradition is easy, as Italy is built on tradition! It is communicating those traditions in global markets that is more challenging. This is why we develop innovative products, flavors and packaging, that balance Italian authenticities, so we can be relevant to our clients in other countries with different traditions, customs and uses.
Do you use balsamic vinegar? What is your favorite recipe? Let me know in the comments 🙂