Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vinegar Peppers, How I love Thee

There's an Italian restaurant around here by the name of Uncle Tony's that serves a fantastic antipasto salad.  White quite Americanized (it's served over a bed of iceberg lettuce), the spirit of the classic composed antipasto platter is present through the multitude of delicious "things from jars" and "things from the deli" that adorn the nearly meal-like appetizer.  There's marinated mushrooms, artichoke hearts, slices of provolone, salami, and cappicola (spicy ham).  There's albacore tuna, hot pepperoncini peppers, roasted reds, cecci beans (chickpeas), and black olives, just to name a few.

The salad topping my wife and I like the most, however, is a little thing called a "vinegar pepper."  I think you have to be somewhat masochistic in order to love such a food the way we do.  They're nothing more than green bell peppers that have been pickled in an almost straight vinegar solution, but the result is a pucker so tart that it makes your eyes roll up in their sockets.  And then you instantly crave more...  It's sick.  Really, it is.

I'm not one for hot foods.  I usually leave the cayenne, the habenero sauce, and the tobasco to those who thrive on firey heat.  I like to be able to taste the underlying food, thank you very much.  But when it comes to vinegary pickles, sign me up!  When it comes to eating Sour Patch Kids candy by the fistful, I'm your man.  Need someone to polish-off that kosher dill that came with your sandwich?  Give-er-here.  And IMHO, vinegar peppers are the pickle to end all pickles (at least in terms of tartness).

If you're interested in trying vinegar peppers, a company by the name of Pastene imports and sells them.  They're sold in most major supermarkets throughout New England, though I don't know about availability elsewhere.  A good Italian specialty food store may have them.  This summer, I'll be working on a recipe to make your own but my previous attempts were less than stellar.  If I succeed, I'll be sure and post the result.

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