A Mustard Sommelier’s 10 Tips for Tasting Mustard Better
Mustard. Just hearing the word alone likely conjures up visions of hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft pretzels. But there’s more to this condiment than meets the eye—or lips. Just ask Pierette Huttner, the Mustard Sommelier at the recently opened Maille Boutique on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. A wonderland of Dijon, the store is the first of its kind in America. And with varietals like blackcurrant liqueur and fig and coriander—more than 20 of which have never been available Stateside in the past—Huttner promises that “there is a mustard for everyone.” Here, she shares her 10 tips for tasting mustard better.
1. THINK OF MUSTARD AS MORE THAN A CONDIMENT.
“The most common misconception [Americans have] is that mustard can only be used as a condiment and not as an ingredient or an ‘enhancement’ to a dish,” Huttner says. “One of the properties of mustard is that, when used as an ingredient in a dish, it will actually intensify all of the other ingredients and flavors.”
2. A LITTLE DIJON GOES A LONG WAY.
People use Dijon differently depending on where they come from. “The French use Dijon mustard as a ‘secret ingredient’ to perk up many recipes—from potato salad to stews to quiches to hot and cold sauces—whereas Americans have traditionally thought of mustard more as a condiment to spread on sandwiches, top hot dogs, etc.,” Huttner explains. “In France, Dijon mustard is considered the key ingredient for creating a delicious vinaigrette. Maille encourages Americans to add Dijon mustard to their favorite recipes: American classics such as macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes can benefit from a touch of Maille mustard! You can find lots of ideas on our Website.”
3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO EAT IT IN THE A.M.
“One of my favorite uses for mustard is to add flavor to scrambled eggs or an omelette,” Huttner says. “For this, I often use Maille Mustard with sun-dried tomato, Espelette chili pepper, and white wine, but Maille Mustard with blue cheese and white wine also works really well in any egg-based dish."
4. BE AWARE OF SMELL, TASTE, AND TEXTURE FIRST.
When sampling new mustards, Huttner advises “[thinking] first of smell, taste, and texture. What does the smell tell you? Then, taste the mustard to experience the nuances of flavor. Lastly, the texture also affects the use. Something with a lot of texture and seeds works well to thicken a sauce or a marinade.”
5. DON’T SET LIMITS WHEN IT COMES TO PAIRING.
“Cooking and tasting are meant to be creative adventures,” Huttner says. “Too many rules limit your imagination and therefore your palate.”
6. EXPERIMENTATION IS KEY.
“Maille Wholegrain Chardonnay Mustard on Tap added into macaroni and cheese is amazing and gives what can be a very mundane dish a touch of French elegance,” Huttner says of one of her favorite—albeit unusual—pairings. “Another favorite is our Lemon and Harissa Mustard in a traditional chicken salad sandwich or Shallot, Chervil, and Chanterelle Mushroom Mustard spread on a baguette topped with goat cheese.”
7. MUSTARD MAKES FOR A DELECTABLE DESSERT.
“Mustard paired with something sweet for dessert” is one of Huttner’s favorite innovative uses for Dijon. “Our Prune and Armagnac Brandy Mustard is fantastic [when] used as an ingredient in a vanilla custard," she says, "and our Fig and Coriander Mustard is a great replacement for jam in a fruit tart.”
8. DON’T RULE COCKTAILS OUT.
“The Maille Horseradish Mustard in a Bloody Mary is fantastic for brunch,” Huttner says.
9. FOR A UNIQUE TASTE EXPERIENCE, JUST ADD WINE.
When it comes to Maille’s most unique Dijon offerings, Huttner points to “All of our Mustards on Tap! They’re very special as they are all based in different varieties of white wine, which adds tons of flavor and dimension to a meal. In addition, these are kept cold from the time they are made to preserve the potency of the recipe, and are drafted from the tap into stoneware jars. These jars are an integral part of the ‘Maille Experience’ and can be refilled in any Maille boutique around the world.”
10. THERE IS A MUSTARD FOR EVERYONE.
For Dijon—and The Maille Boutique—newcomers, Huttner offers the following advice: “Take your time. Ask a lot of questions! Taste several mustards and then give your taste buds a break for a few minutes before you continue… There is a mustard for everyone—including people who think they don’t like mustard!”