A bottle of local â€œBalsamic Vinegar,â€ and apparently made from duhat fruit to bootâ€¦howâ€™s that for a Marketman double take?!? I simply could not resist. I bought the bottle for PHP100 and hoped for the best. Traditional Italian balsamic vinegar is made from the must of grapes which are boiled down then concentrated further in a progression of different wood barrels which are subject to the extremes of summer heat and winter cold in and around Modena, Italy. Prior to the last 20 years or so, balsamic vinegar was considered a tonic, or a â€œbalsamâ€ for health reasons. It was sometimes imbibed in little glasses like a medicine or drizzled on food to enhance flavors. As its popularity grew and it became a â€œmainstreamâ€ vinegar, cheap â€œcopiesâ€ or versions of it were mass produced in Italy, sometimes with a decent shadow of the original, or at worst, simply colored and sweetened wine vinegarâ€¦ Nevertheless, I have NEVER seen the term applied to vinegars from outside Italy and I suppose there isnâ€™t a patent on the term but it was a bit bizarre to see this dark vinegar from Ilocos labeled balsamic vinegarâ€¦
Back home, I opened the vinegar and it smelled curiously close to a cheap Italian Balsamic vinegar â€“ somewhat fruity, sweetish and intense. However, it was incredibly watery and far more acidic. I was amazed that it was the result of fermenting duhat fruit and had it not taken on the â€œbalsamicâ€ label, which I consider partially fraudulent, I would have thought it a really cool vinegar in itâ€™s own right. Anyone who has been under a duhat tree at the peak of its fruit bearing cycle can practically smell the fruit fermenting into vinegarâ€¦ I havenâ€™t tried this vinegar with too many foods yet but I suspect it would pair nicely with a grilled fish or other grilled meats. At just USD2 a bottle, it is certainly far cheaper than some of the most spectacular Italian aceto balsamico tradizionale that can run upwards of USD100 for a tiny bottle with perhaps a cup or two of syrupy liquid. But I really shouldn’t compare the two at all. Letâ€™s just say the duhat vinegar was an interesting find. But it would be akin to saying my splatter acrylic canvases should share the same wall space as a stunning Jackson Pollack. This duhat vinegar will not share space with my real balsamics just yetâ€¦ If you are interested, get some at the Ilocos stall at the first floor hallway of the Market!Market! Mall in Fort Bonifacio. Kudos to the manufacturers for the effort!