How many jars of mustard do you have? Do you think having nine is excessive, or about the right number? A while back, the Accidental Locavore decided to clean out and inventory the refrigerator. Besides fourteen different hot sauces, there were four jars of mustard. Recently, that number jumped to nine. Why so many? For a long time I’ve had a quest to find that really strong, classic, Dijon that the French serve with almost anything, so there are always Dijon wannabes I’ve auditioned (and found wanting) in the fridge. There are two artisanal jars from Ameline, a producer in Chicago who is making mustard in Dijon, France in the traditional way that I won. And our friend Zhu Zhu just brought over his favorite to go with the pate I made.
Since these two jars (smooth and whole grain) from Ameline were burning a hole on the kitchen counter (moved from my desk for being too distracting), when the Locavore saw a recipe for leeks in a mustard vinaigrette, I pounced! There were beautiful leeks from the last farm box in the fridge, so I cleaned them up and braised them. When they were done, a quick vinaigrette and voila, braised leeks.
Not contented to just take a spoonful of the Ameline for the leeks, I decided to conduct an informal/impromptu mustard taste test. First the whole grain, since that is what the recipe called for. The Ameline was wonderful, full of flavor, not terribly strong, but with a good well-balanced taste. The other contender: Trader Joe’s. Well, not exactly a contender…it was really harsh and one-note. Hands-down winner: Ameline!
Then on to the smooth Dijons. Here there were more contenders: Ameline, Grey Poupon, Zhu Zhu’s Edmond Fallot and Beaufor. The Grey Poupon was the clear loser here, decent, but not terribly interesting. The other three were awfully close [to one another]. The Edmund Fallot and Ameline were both really smooth, well-balanced with good flavor, but not overwhelming sharpness. My personal favorite was the Beaufor, probably because it’s an extra strong Dijon and was the closest to fulfilling my quest. If you’ve got any other suggestions for a strong, classic Dijon I’d love to hear them
My verdict? The Locavore thinks every refrigerator should have at least three mustards, a coarse Dijon, a quality smooth one, and an everyday one. I use the everyday one for cooking and the good Dijons for salad dressing, smearing on pâte and other things French. Zhu Zhu says he just eats it out of the jar. What about you?
If you’re interested: Ameline is available at the Amish markets in NYC or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for stores near you. The Beaufor came from Murray’s Cheese and the Edmond Fallet from Fairway (in a cute silver bucket).