It's probably a question on the front of your mind. Over the last few weeks, Daniel Boulud has been spritzing only the finest tomato, cucumber, and asparagus vinegars from Vienna-based Gegenbauer on many of his dishes. At DB Bistro Moderne, chef de cuisine Olivier Muller is marinating the suckling pig in beer vinegar and even offering an after-dinner digestif made of vinegar (Gegenbauer's Edelsaurer P.X. Noble Sour). You know you want to take an alcohol-free shot of vinegar!
Referring to vinegars as "artisanal" seems kind of oxymoronic. Isn't it just stale wine that turns sour? Yeah, but these have been aged in oak barrels for up to seven years and don't include the fillers (usually molasses and straight sugar) found in many cheap store-bought versions. Vinegar adds a new fermented dimension to food, and chefs love playing with it, knowing the high risk for OVing (over-vinegaring), a very nasty thing. In some cases, to control the distribution, they use a spray attachment to extract just the mist.
Joining Boulud, Thomas Keller, Wylie Dufresne, and Dan Barber are also dropping about $30 a bottle (the average wholesale price) on this Austrian acid.