Bee staff photograph by Randy Pench
The dashing gent in the white Rolls leans out the car window and asks the distinguished-looking man in the tan Rolls, "Pardon me. Would you have any Grey Poupon?"
"But of course," the man replies in a French accent, handing over a jar.
Voiceover: "The finer things in life... Happily, some are affordable."
That iconic 1980s TV commercial helped raise America's consciousness about mustard from the city of Dijon in the Burgundy region of France, the mustard capital of the world. Misguidedly, many Americans are still stuck on good 'ol ballpark mustard.
It's time to move on with two luscious Dijon mustards from Reine de Dijon, condiment-makers since 1840 - a traditional yellow, and that same mustard spiked with red pepper and tomato. Find them at Corti Bros. Market, 5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, (916) 736-3800. They're $3.99 each in seven-ounce jars.
Like special wines, the mustards are "appellation origin controlled" because "the mustard seeds and the Aligote wine used to make them come from Burgundy," grocer Darrell Corti notes in his latest newsletter at www.cortibros.biz.
"Darrell and I first came across the mustard three years ago at a trade show," said Corti Bros. Market director Rick Mindermann. "We had not tasted a Dijon mustard like that in years. (Because of business politics) it took awhile to get it in stock, but it's the real deal."
Agreed. The two mustards' textures, heat and depth of flavors are unique in my experience. For starters, I smeared some of each on halves of a ham-on-sourdough sandwich, took bites and said a single word: "Wow!" Advice: A little goes a long way, but the more you taste, the more you want.
Beyond that, I conferred with Mindermann and my colleague Chris Macias, the Bee's food and wine writer, on how best to use the mustards in the home kitchen.
"Dijon mustard is the 'secret ingredient' in countless sauces," Mindermann said. "It also acts as an emulsifier in viniagrette dressing, keeping the oil and vinegar from separating. It's not just a condiment, it's a dressing."
We came up with a few ideas on how to use the mustards:
For the Moutarde de Bourgogne (yellow): with fish and roasts of beef and pork; on a platter of charcuterie, cheeses, olives, almonds and breads; on pastrami and corned beef sandwiches; in sauces and salad dressings; and - what the heck - on anything not nailed down.
For the Moutarde Provencal (reddish; the Provence region is invoked because of the additions of red pepper and tomato): as a spread on panini and traditional Cuban sandwiches; as a garnish; dolloped on top of deviled eggs; inside an omelet; on top of steamed vegetables; and folded into rice, mashed potatoes and pasta.