Monday, November 2, 2015


     I love mustard.     Right now, as we speak, I have four containers of open mustard in my refrigerator.  In the pantry, I have an additional seven different kinds of mustard.  Each of these has a purpose.  Now, Dear Husband could devour spoonfuls of mustard.  I, on the other hand, prefer just a little...a little goes a long way.

     Outside of these two mustards, my stash came back with me from Europe.  Now, why would I bring so many different kinds of mustard back to the United States where we already have mustard?  I brought them back for two main reasons:  There is a tremendous variety of mustards in Europe and it tends to be super cheap.  So, why not fill a suitcase? (I didn't and now I wish I had!) I am not knocking U.S. mustard.  French's mustard is a must for hotdogs.   The mustard section in any German, French or Belgian grocery store is expansive.  Seriously, even the smallest of stores will carry close to twenty different varieties of mustard.  The price?  Pennies.  Yes, pennies.  I rarely spent over a Euro for a container of mustard...and my all time favorite...cost 71 cents for a large jar!

Mustard, Mustard, Mustard
     German mustards (senf) are particularly good with sausages.  They have different heat levels.  Susser senf is a sweet mild mustard that is particularly good with weisswurst.  Delikatess senf is a medium-heat senf, which is absolutely devine with the classic fest dish - Brotchen mit bratwurst - a grilled bratwurst sandwiched between a crusty roll.  A huge container of mustard sits next to a food truck and you put on as much as you desire.  Finally, there is Scharfer senf, which is smooth and sharp.  Taste just a bit at first or your mouth will feel like it is on fire.  Again, a little goes a long way.
They even tell you on the label that it is Sauce for Smoked Salmon!

     I have two other favorite German mustards.  First is Senf-Dill sauce.  This is heavenly when paired with smoked salmon, a favorite brunch dish of ours.  The mustard is a bit sweet with a hint of heat and the dill compliments the salmon quite well.  You can do no better than Feige Senf Sauce, a fig mustard sauce, which when served with cheese, elevates the dish to new levels.

Feige Senf Sauce is perfect with cheese!
      We  know that Dijon mustard hails from Dijon, France.  Unfortunately, having been to Dijon, there are no more mustard producers in the area, the last factory closed down in 2009.  Today, 80% of the seeds used to make Dijon mustard comes from Canada!    However, that did not stop us one year from visiting the Maille Boutique in center Dijon.  Seriously, a boutique dedicated to mustard!  Here, they have an unbelievable selection of mustards on tap.  You can sample to your heart's content, then select your favorite to be packaged in a special jar.  Yes, it is a bit touristy but fun and I guarantee you what you will sample an amazing amount of varieties.

     When we lived in Belgium, we were in the French speaking part of the country and most of the grocery stores carried French products.  We did find a unique mustard shop in Ghent, Tierenteyn Mustard Shop.  This mustard originated in 1790 and the same recipe is used today.  In fact, the shop has only had two locations, Groentenmarkt 2 and from 1862, Groentenmarkt 3 - right next door.  The mustard is made on site and since they grind mustard seeds two to three times a week, you can be assured that the mustard you taste is not more than three days old.  You pick the size jar and they fill it up.  Yummy...but unfortunately, only available in the store.

Tierenteyn Mustard from Brugge

     For sandwiches, I particularly like mayonnaise that has been mixed with a little Dijon.  My favorite grocery store in France, Hyper U has a wonderful variety.  Here in the U.S., I think Trader Joe's has a super version.  Slice a baguette, spread on some of this deliciousness... top with ham, cheese, arugula and tomatoes and that, my friends is scrumptious.

Mayonnaise mixed with Dijon Mustard - great for sandwiches

     But my absolute all time favorite is Moutarde Forte from Hyper U.  This large jar costs less than a dollar.  It is particularly good when used in a vinaigrette or cream sauce.  Forte means strong and it is.  I managed to bring home two large jars and over the weekend, I broke down and opened the second one.  It was a bittersweet opening. While I couldn't wait to use it, I knew it was the last one.  So instructions went out to the family...this is special occasion mustard!  No dipping spoons in there! 

My absolute favorite - Moutarde Forte from Hyper U

     Since I love mustard so much, it felt totally appropriate to begin collecting old mustard containers.  My favorite flea market is the Waterloo market in Belgium.  On many Sunday mornings, I would leave my warm bed early in the morning and meet up with friends to search for "treasures". The top row are my cute little jars that once contained French mustard.  The bottom row are old stoneware containers that originally came from Germany.

My collection of mustard jars

     So there it ode to my favorite condiment.  On Thursday, I will share a wonderful and easy recipe, which was totally worthy of my Hyper U mustard.

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