aMuse Bouche: Burgundy Spice
Bourgogne* restauranteurs serve-up some of France’s most iconic dishes such as Boeuf Bourguignonne, Coq au Vin (beef and chicken stewed in wine), Jambon Persillade (ham in parslied aspic), strong Andouillette tripe sausages, escargot, rabbit. With these strong and rich dishes, it’s easy to see why the tangy Dijon mustard would also be a specialty here. I always have a jar at home and find it to be the most versatile condiment in my kitchen, using it straight with meats or in sandwiches, in cold and warm dressings or finishing pan sauces with it in lieu of butter. And yes, I’ve had it with burgers – and Grand Cru Clos de Vougeot no less – in Saint-Aubin.
During a break last week in Bourgogne between training sessions and the epic 5-day Grands Jours de Bourgogne trade tastings, I finally had the chance to visit the Edmond Fallot mustard factory in the central town of Beaune. What I learned there as a #foodie falls under the category of “things I didn’t know” – that the mustard there is hotter than the same mustard I buy in California, and secondly, “Dijon” mustard doesn’t refer to a place of origin, but a style of mustard.
Protected Place Name
Fallot of course makes “Dijon Mustard” or Moutarde de Dijon, but I found out that the word Dijon is not protected and that its name on the label refers to the style or recipe of mustard, not the origin of ingredients from the Bourgogne town of Dijon. In this case, it’s mustard made simply and purely of mustard seeds, vinegar, salt and water. After soaking in vinegar (historically in verjus), the seeds are ground slowly with a millstone. This limits the friction heat which would degrade the heat compounds in the mixture. In Bourgogne, the husks of the seeds are then removed, which gives the final mustard a more pure and strong flavor. Currently at Fallot, the source of mustard seeds for Dijon Mustard is 55% Bourgogne and 45% Canada.
Moutarde de Bourgogne, on the other hand, is protected and is made from ingredients solely from Bourgogne, including the mustard seeds and white wine. Check the Indication Geographique Protegee wording underneath the product name.
Eat It While It’s Hot
In addition to an inside look at mustard production, the Edmond Fallot tour (EUR 10) includes a tasting of pure and flavored mustards at their tasting bar. What struck me the most is that all of the mustards were spicy hot, compared to the relatively milder Bourgogne mustards I buy at home. I learned that the heat component of mustard, not just the freshness, dissipates with time (presumably in transit from France and on the retail shelf). So while these mustards are “best by” date-stamped for about 18 months after packaging, enjoy them as soon as you purchase them if you like heat.
*Note: Bourgogne is what we call Burgundy now.