Dairy & Oil

Dairy products include cheeses, creams, butter, but I'm also including oils here as well.

Cheese

A favorite cheese in cooking is obviously Parmigiano-Reggiano. Make sure the rind has the proper markings (Parmigiano-Reggiano). A few recommendations from Cook's Illustrated (Sep-Oct 2007):

  • Boar's Head, found in supermarkets ($17/lb), aged 24 months
  • Il Villaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano ($17/lb), aged 24 months
  • http://iGourmet.com sells an excellent cheese for $14/lb ("regular"), and a Vacche Rosse ("Red Cow") for $26/lb

Olive Oil

For cooking purposes, the recommendation is to not use extra-virgin oil. Here's a couple of recommended brands:

  • DaVinci Olive Oil [best]
  • Colavita Olive Oil
  • FIlippo Berio Olive Oil For dressings and salads, extra-virgin oils are obviously a must Three recommendations
  • Columela Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Nunez De Prado Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Terra Medi Extra Virgin Olive Oil Another winner, which is noticeably cheaper is
  • DaVinci Extra Virgin Olive Oil The conclusion is, if you're looking for cheap, but good olive oil (for cooking or salads), the different DaVinci oils are both winners!

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar can be incredibly expensive, particularly when aged for a long time. They obviously must come from Modena to be "authentic", but you can find decent vinegars at the super market:

  • Lucini Gran Riserva Balsamico
  • Monari Federzoni Balsamic Vinegar of Modean
  • Ortalli Balsamic Vinegar of Modena For anextremely good, and expensive vinegars, try
  • Cavalli Gold Seal Extra Vecchio Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia (25 years old) However, on a noticeably smaller budget, also try
  • Oliviers & Co. Premium Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
  • Rubio Aceto Balsamico di Modena