Top Pick Of The Week

December 19, 2006

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Livio Pesle Wine Jellies
From The Kitchens Of Livio Pesle: These wine jellies are gourmet condiments that embellish smoked fish, ham, poultry, lamb, sausages, cheeses...even bittersweet chocolate.
WHAT IT IS: A new line of artisan condiments from Italy.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Made of wine varietals indigenous to the Friuli region of Italy: The products are 50% and 55% concentrated wine essence (the alcohol evaporates during cooking) and blended with herbs, spices and fruits.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Elegant accompaniments to grace everyday foods, crafted with imagination and style.
WHERE TO BUY IT: Different stores carry different parts of the line. See the shopping information below.

From The Kitchens Of Livio Pesle: Condiments For Connoisseurs

Livio Pesle retired from the shipping business and thought his second career would be as a winemaker. Then, he reconsidered. There are many fine wines from the Friuli region of Italy. Why not use the wines from his vineyards to make gourmet condiments instead? The products he created are unique, born of his fine palate and creative tinkering in the kitchen. Dalle Cucine Di Livio Pesle, “From The Kitchens of Livio Pesle,” as the line is called, offers three types of condiments: savory Wine Jellies; Sauces, which are elegant renditions of Worcestershire and ketchup; and sweet Cocktail Jellies to be spread on toast or biscuits, used as dessert toppings, and yes, added to cocktails. All of the alcohol evaporates during cooking, but the rich fruit flavors and colors of the wines remain.

Because the products are so new and are imported, all of the items are not widely available. But there is a beachhead, and more will arrive. With such beautiful packaging and such a tasty concept (Balsamic Vinegar Jelly to pair with parmesan cheese and roasted meats, and ginger-horseradish-dill Bishoff Wine Jelly for smoked salmon), Livio Pesle caused a stir at the Summer Fancy Food Show, where the line was among our “Best of Show” picks. Those with patrician tastes, or who want to develop them, will want to pounce upon every jar and bottle they can find.

  • To read the full review below, click here. If your e-mail client does not support anchor links that jump to text above or below, e.g. AOL, please scroll down.
  • Read reviews of more of our favorite condiments.
  • Review the Table of Contents of the December issue of THE NIBBLE online magazine, plus the back issues archive and our most popular articles.
  • All of the Top Pick Of The Week newsletters are permanently archived on, in chronological order and by product category.

Elegant Food

Michael Mina Roasting In Hell's Kitchen The Complete Keller
Michael Mina: The Cookbook, by Michael Mina. The San Francisco-based celebrity chef specializes in the trio concept, in which a master recipe is followed by three flavor variations. A crispy loin of pork can be served with an orange/carrot, apple/sage, or tomato/corn combination of accompaniments, e.g. Although the flavor combinations create a sense of complexity, the recipes themselves are simple. Delicious and fun. $31.50. Click here for more information or to purchase. Roasting in Hell's Kitchen: Temper Tantrums, F Words, and the Pursuit of Perfection, by Gordon Ramsay. Not a cookbook, but a glimpse into the world of haute cuisine via the autobiography of world’s most famous and infamous chef, who happens to turn out some of the finest food on the planet. Escaping a difficult childhood, he trained under famous chefs and built his own Michelin-starred empire. $17.13. Click here for more information or to purchase. The Complete Keller: The French Laundry Cookbook/Bouchon, by Thomas Keller. Keller’s two best-selling cookbooks are packaged in a slipcase gift edition. Given how tough it is to get a reservation at his eateries, this may be as close as most of us get. The cookbooks are so beautiful and glossy, it’s almost a good substitute. Very well-written, easy-to-follow recipes. $63.00 for both cookbooks. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Livio Pesle Wine Jellies: Condiments For Connoisseurs



Livio Pesle comes from a tradition of fine food and wine: For many years his family Map of Friulihas owned vineyards and made wines and liqueurs from the indigenous grapes of the Friuli region of northeast Italy (shown in red on the map). He continues in those footsteps, but has taken a leap forward. He produces an innovative line of fine condiments from the wines: jellies and sauces created from his imagination.

With no formal culinary training—but with an Italian’s love of cooking and buon gusto—he began with ancient recipes from family files and created a line of embellishments for today’s Continental cuisine. Called Dalle Cucine di Livio Pesle*, “From The Kitchens of Livio Pesle,” a dab from the jar or bottle provides a finishing touch to meats, fish, cheeses, salads and desserts. In Italian, his jellies are labeled Gelatina Di Vino: gelatina = jelly, di vino = of wine. To play on words, divino = divine.

*And pronounced dah-LAY coo-CHEE-nay Dee Lee-vee-oh PAYS-lay

All of the alcohol is evaporated during the cooking process, so the products can be enjoyed by those who don’t consume alcohol. The intoxicant is gone, but intoxicating flavor accents remain: the wines are reduced until they are intense and concentrated. While there is cane sugar in the recipes, the products are low in calories—generally 30 to 40 per serving. Most products are fat-free; a few of the sauces contain a small amount of extra virgin olive oil.

A true artisan product, Livio Pesle jellies and sauces are beautifully packaged for the table and for gift-giving. The line was the sensation of the Summer Fancy Food Show among food writers and those seeking true “foodie” products. On the other hand, many people didn’t “get it” because these aren’t flashy sauces. They’re delicate, “less is more” food accents. They’re what we’d give top chefs as a gift. Because on their night off—at home with some smoked salmon, a lamb chop, a seared tuna steak, a Camembert—they’d really enjoy playing in the kitchens of Livio Pesle.

Parmigiano-Reggiano from BonatiParmigiano-Reggiano from Giorgio and Gianluca Bonati in Parma is one of the greatest of the genre. The milk from 100 cows is condensed into just four wheels of cheese per day, then aged two years to achieve the best flavor. It is available from


Livio Pesle Modena Balsamic Vinegar Jelly For dessert, Italians often enjoy a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano with a few drops of fine old balsamic vinegar. As a variation, pair the Parmigiano with Livio Pesle’s Modena Balsamic Vinegar Jelly. Or, serve it as a duo: vinegar and vinegar jelly.

The Condiment Wine Jellies

The tradition of pairing condiment jellies with cheese, meats and fish is an old one, although most Americans have at most experienced mint jelly with lamb. As cheese condiments have been enjoying a renaissance, savory jellies have become more available (like sweet jellies, they contain sugar but are flavored with herbs, garlic, chiles or other spices instead of fruit—read our Guide to Cheese Condiments). Some of Livio Pesle’s six wine jellies pair with different cheeses, but also with ham, poultry, meats, sausages and foie gras. And for a completely new experience, try the Vinum Hippocraticum Jelly, an ancient recipe that can be dabbed on bittersweet chocolate bars.

  • Bishoff Wine Jelly. Popular in centuries past was a cured wine known as Bishop or Bishoff wine, made with aged white wine and citrus fruits. Sr. Pesle took an old recipe from family archives and added ginger, horseradish and dill to the citrus, creating a moderately spicy yet delicate condiment.
    Enjoy it with: Smoked salmon and all smoked fish, prosciutto crudo, speck and bresaola.
  • Chimichurri Jelly. Inspired by the well-known Argentinean sauce, this jelly is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, dry herbs (mostly parsley and oregano) and fresh garlic. A chili pepper sauce is added at the end, providing the sharpness needed in a good barbecue jelly.
    Enjoy it with: Any roast meat.
  • Picolit Wine Jelly. The oldest indigenous varietal wine of Friuli, this sweet wine, with almond notes, produces a delicate jelly with a lively acidity and the same golden color and almond fragrance as the wine.
    Enjoy it with: Foie gras torchons or pâté, goose or duck breast and light cheeses like ricotta and goat cheese. Or, spread it on toast.
Foie Gras
Picolit, a Friulian sweet wine, is drunk with foie gras.
Livio Pesle’s Picolit Wine Jelly makes an ideal garnish. The lovely foie gras is from
  • Modena Balsamic Vinegar Jelly. Sr. Pesle begins this jelly with a fine balsamic vinegar from a small farm in Modena. The cooked grape juice and the vinegar utilized are produced using artisan techniques and have not been aged. The vinegar is then reduced by simmering for an extended period at 140°F. The result is a rich but mild jelly with a balance of sweet and sour, just like a fine Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena. For about information balsamico tradizionale, read our Guide To Balsamic Vinegar.
    Enjoy it with: Parmesan cheese, roasted meats, fish carpaccios and anywhere you’d use Aceto Balsamico di Modena Tradizionale. If diluted with plain water and extra virgin olive oil, it makes a wonderful salad dressing.
  • Verduzzo Jelly. Traditionally, Verduzzo, also known as Ramandolo, is a popular dessert wine that is paired with strong cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Grana Padano and Montasio. This jelly is produced by cooking old-vine Verduzzo, aged in wood barrels, which gives it a nice dark, yellow color.
    Enjoy it with: Blue cheeses including Roquefort and Stilton, and other strong cheeses like Camembert.
  • Vinum Hippocraticum Jelly. Hundreds of years ago, Vinum Hippocraticum was a popular drink in Europe and considered a Medicinal Liqueur. it was prepared by infusing spices into a hearty red wine, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso. Following the original recipe, a bouquet of spices is soaked for 15 days and a special chili pepper sauce is added to layer the spices with some heat. The result: a fusion of Central European spices, Mediterranean garlic and zing.
    Enjoy it with: Smoked ham, smoked poultry, lamb, sausages, strong cheeses and bittersweet chocolate.
Smoked SalmonTry something new with smoked salmon. (This Kendall Brook smoked salmon is from the Ducktrap River).

Livio Pesle Bishoff Wine JellyAdd a dab of Bishoff wine jelly, made with citrus, ginger, horseradish and dill.

The Condiment Sauces

These are very light sauces—think the consistency of Worcestershire Sauce—that are as elegant as the bottles that hold them. They are meant to add grace to (not cover up) what is on the plate.

  • Bloody Mary Ketchup. This ketchup has nothing in common with the sugary red stuff that comes out of American ketchup bottles. The base is a Tocai Friulano white wine combined with top-quality Italian triple tomato concentrate. The result is reminiscent of a Bloody Mary, complete with vodka aroma (though it’s alcohol-free—and fat-free too).
    Enjoy it with: Fries, burgers, any “ketchup foods.” Add it to tomato juice for a Virgin Mary, and add vodka for a cocktail.
  • Curry Sauce. For those who love curry sauces but not the fat, this moderately-hot curry sauce is fat-free, made of white wine and apple juice and thickened with a bit of apple pectin. It can be used directly or added to other sauces for curry flavor.
    Enjoy it with: Cooked vegetables, chicken, turkey, veal, seafood.
  • Lemon Lime Fish Sauce. The Friuli region borders the Adriatic Sea, where the custom is to dress the broiled and steamed fish with a sauce of garlic, lemon, olive oil and parsley. This recipe inspired Lemon Lime Fish Sauce, which has a white wine base, fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juices, garlic and a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. Apple pectin is added for body.
    Enjoy it with: Steamed or broiled fish.
  • Sughetto Sauce. Onions, carrots and garlic, slowly sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, are blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, which has been reduced with dried wild mushrooms and spices. It tastes like roast meat gravy, though it’s a vegetarian product. Think umami!
    Enjoy it with: Crustaceans (lobster, shrimp, crabs), chicken and white meats in general, hard-boiled eggs. Or, use it as a bread dipper.
Maine Lobster Claws
Low-caloric lobster ceases to be so when dipped into melted butter. If you want a lobster condiment, try the equally low-calorie Sughetto Sauce. The Maine lobster claws are from
  • Universal Balsamic Sauce LP 17. The ultimate Worcestershire Sauce, Italian-style, made of 17 ingredients basic to Italian gastronomy and fat-free. Where Worcestershire sauce has a base of ordinary vinegar flavored with anchovies, tamarind, chiles, molasses, cloves, garlic and onion, this Italian version is based on Modena balsamic vinegar mixed with anchovies, fruit concentrate, chili pepper sauce and 13 other ingredients that Sr. Pesle is keeping close to the vest.
    Enjoy it with: any salad, meat, fish, eggs, etc. Mix it 50:50 with 50% extra virgin olive oil for a gourmet vinaigrette.
  • Wine and Pickled Gherkin Sauce (Salsa Skoff). Inspired by Russian and Central European pickled gherkin sauces, this pale green sauce has a base of white wine, into which fennel and spinach are added. Gherkins are blended into a fine white wine vinegar from Skoff, then added to the wine mixture and thickened with apple pectin.
    Enjoy it with: Prosciutto crudo, salami, speck, sausages (wurst) and frankfurters. In Italy this type of sauce is used to decorate the plates of Antipasto all’Italiana—mixed slices of salami, speck, bacon and prosciutto crudo.
Prosciutto de parma
Dress up prosciutto crudo with Wine and Pickled Gherkin Sauce.
Livio Pesle Salsa Skoff
Livio Pesle’s Salsa Skoff: Partner to the Italian ham, sausage and salami family.

The Cocktail Jellies

What, you may ask, is a cocktail jelly? It’s a non-alcoholic jelly that one uses to make cocktails (pour the cocktail over a scooped ball of jelly, as you’ll see in a moment). Or, you can serve it on fine crackers to eat with cocktails. Or, forget about the cocktails and use it to garnish ice cream and sorbet. It’s very tasty, very different and a lot of fun.

  • Bellini Cocktail Jelly. The jelly is made of Prosecco and white peach juice, like the famous cocktail.
    Enjoy it with: Prosecco, Champagne or any sparkling wine. Put two teaspoons of the jelly into a glass and add the wine. The jelly remains solid, releasing the delicate flavor of a Bellini cocktail. When the bubbly is consumed, eat the jelly with a spoon—an edible cocktail! It does double duty as a spread on toast or biscuits at breakfast or tea.
  • Bloody Mary Cocktail Jelly. A spicy jelly version of the Bloody Mary Ketchup, white wine and triple tomato concentrate are cooked with spices and vegetables to create the taste of a rich Bloody Mary. A strong vodka extract provides vodka flavor without adding any significant percentage of alcohol.
    Enjoy it with: Crackers, served with Bloody Marys or Vodka Martinis. For the martini, scoop up a jelly ball with a melon baller and place it it at the bottom of a martini glass. Pour the chilled martini on top. It will create a slight yellow color and a soft Bloody Mary flavor. After the drink is consumed, swallow the jelly ball—an innovative alternative to a cocktail olive or onion.
  • Cosmopolitan Cocktail Jelly. Cranberry juice, blackberry juice and Triple Sec extract are the base of this unique jelly.
    Enjoy it with: Biscuits for a sophisticated snack, or as a topping for yogurt or ice cream. As with the previous example, create a cocktail by scooping a jelly ball into a martini glass with a melon baller; then pour a Cosmopolitan cocktail on top. Enjoy the jelly ball when the drink is finished.
  • Mimosa Cocktail Jelly. The classic Mimosa cocktail combines Champagne and orange juice. Here, white wine and orange juice create a sophisticated jelly.
    Enjoy it with: The Mimosa is cousin to the Bellini, combining Champagne and orange juice instead of Prosecco and white peach juice. As with the Bellini jelly, put two teaspoons into a Champagne goblet, add the Champagne, and enjoy the delicate flavor of a Mimosa cocktail. Then eat the jelly from the bottom of the glass. At a Champagne brunch, spread the jelly on toast as well.
  • Piña Colada Cocktail Jelly. Pineapple, coconut milk and rum extract create this jelly.
    Enjoy it with: Biscuits or on vanilla ice cream. We didn’t have the opportunity to try this flavor, but Sr. Pesle says that it is so irresistible that it will be consumed straight from the jar.
  • Screw Driver Cocktail Jelly. Pure orange juice and a strong vodka extract create this jelly.
    Enjoy it with: Crackers or biscuits as a complement to a Screwdriver cocktail, or at breakfast on toast. Or, the Vodka Martini approach, a scooped jelly ball at the bottom of a martini glass, with a chilled vodka martini atop, delivers the soft taste of a Screwdriver cocktail, and a jelly ball to enjoy at the end.
Livio Pesle Bloody Mary Cocktail Jelly
Bloody Mary Cocktail Jelly.
Livio Pesle Cosmopolitan Cocktail Jelly
Cosmopolitan Cocktail Jelly.
Livio Pesle Screw Driver Cocktail Jelly
Screw Driver Cocktail Jelly.

We hope you’ll keep an eye out for these products, as they start to populate the shelves of specialty food stores from coast to coast. As the products are new to these shores, no one retailer yet carries the full line, and one has to hunt and peck to find the individual products. (People close to Whole Foods Markets in Chicago and Central Market in Texas have the best shot. We’ve noted other sources below.)

If you’re traveling to Trieste or elsewhere in the Friuli region, the winery is open daily to visitors by prior appointment. The Livio Pesle products are sold there, too—which is one way to pick up the flavors you can’t find here. Another way is to ask your specialty retailer to order them. We’ve included the information below.

—Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to your favorite connoisseurs...or to anyone who needs to buy gifts for them.


Wine Jellies, Sauces and Cocktail Jellies

  • Wine Jellies
    6-Ounce Jar
    $9.99 to $12.99
  • Sauces
    8.1-Ounce Bottle
  • Cocktail Jellies
    6-Ounce Jar
    $9.99 to $10.99

Purchasing information below.

For more information about The Kitchens of Livio Pesle, visit

  • Wine Jellies:
  • Wine Jellies and Sauces:
    Marty’s Fine Wines & Gourmet Foods
  • Ask your retailer to order them. The
    importer is Atalanta, 1.908.351.8000.

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Livio Pesle
So elegantly Italian, one might be tempted not to open a gift of Livio Pesle products, but just display them as kitchen art.
Livio Pesle
Livio Pesle.

Check Out These Other Top Pick Of The Week Condiments:


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