The Best of Italy – Benfatti Fine Italian Foods

Available in EmporiumBen Cleary and his team at Benfatti Fine Italian Foods take great pride in their mission: “To bring joy to foodies by offering them hard-to-find genuine artisan foods from the countryside of Italy”.

Benfatti epitomises the principles of true luxury that we have mentioned many times before here at ThisMagnificentLife – Heritage, Craftsmanship, Rarity and Integrity. The company only sources and imports to Australia artisanal products such as single estate olive oil, precious black truffles and wild Amarena cherries in cherry syrup (perfect in a glass of prosecco).

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As Guy Grossi says in his wonderful tome ‘Love Italy’ (review here) he believes Italy is “made up of different ingredients rather than towns and villages!“ Benfatti also introduces us to Italy through its ingredients from Italy’s finest food regions: Lombardia and the Vialone Nano and Carnaroli rice, mouthwatering Sicilian Cherry Tomato sauce with Basil, handmade pasta from Sardinia and fine Aceto Balsamico from Modena in Emilia Romagna.

The tradition of aged balsamic goes back to the Middle Ages and it is thought the special taste is due to the warm temperatures, high humidity and the exceptional Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. Used originally as a ‘tonic’ it is now one of Italy’s most sought after products. A great aged balsamic presents just like a great vintage wine – with depth of flavour, complex notes and delightful aroma. And unlike any other vinegar, the perfect balance of sweet and sour ensures it is as good with savoury dishes as well as desserts.

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Only balsamic vinegar made in the Reggio Emilia and Modena provinces, following the strict rules laid out by the consortia—which include mandatory tastings of each vinegar before it is released to the public—can be called aceto balsamico tradizionale. The European Protected Denomination of Origin (DOP) applies to the tradizionale and the European Union IGP or protected geographic identification to authentic balsamico.

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To qualify as a traditional balsamic a vinegar is derived completely from grape must (juices) and be made only from grapes grown in Emilia-Romagna, produced in the region and aged for at least 12 years. After cooking the must for hours over a direct flame the liquid is brown and syrupy and then transferred to barrels to age. The vinegar is moved to smaller and smaller barrels down the line each year. This ‘topping up’ means each year the newest cooked must is blended with the one from the previous year. The last barrel usually only holds 2 gallons.  The Pedroni family have been crafting balsamic vinegar just outside of Modena since the late 19th century. They currently produce 5 balsamico tradizionale DOP, including ‘Italo’ which is aged in oak and chestnut barrels for over 12 years. It is dense and syrupy and not overly pungent and is a perfect beginners balsamic tradizionale. Benfatti Fine Italian Foods also imports the Nero Pedroni which is aged for over 6 years.

Ben from benfatti
Ben from benfatti

Benfatti is a derivation of ‘benfatto’ or well made. Indeed they have sourced some of Italy’s finest artisanal products. If you love cooking and have tried your hand at ‘la cucina italiana’ you will love using these balsamic vinegars that we present here in Emporium. Using these products just might get you rave reviews at your next dinner party and some very grateful guests.

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Liz Bond

Liz Bond comes from a PR background and loves fine wine, great food and rewarding travel - all the magnificent things in life. She prides herself in an innate ability to meet famous celebrities at baggage carousels.

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