Petites Moutardes

Petites Moutardes

I’m sure this happens to you all the time, too.

You set out to buy a gift for someone, say, a hostess gift. You happen to be on the Place de la Madeleine, or any other place where razzle-dazzle food stores abound — La Madeleine is home to Fauchon, Hediard, Petrossian and La Maison du Chocolat among others.

And you think: a food gift! Now, that’s a novel idea.

On one corner of the square, you step into the Maille boutique, where the black and gold emblazoned company sells its world-famous mustards and vinegars. Of course, every single supermarché in the country and far beyond sells Maille products, so you stop to ponder: “wait, is this like getting her a bottle of ketchup or a box of tissues?”, but no. While the brand has definitely gone from artisanal to industrial some 75 years ago, the two Maille boutiques (one in Paris, one in Dijon) are there to try and maintain an image of tradition and quality for the brand. After all, Antoine Maille was named official vinaigrier-distillateur at the royal court of France in 1769 — and he had a good twenty years to enjoy the benefits of the position before things turned sour (sorry, couldn’t pass that one).

The Maille boutique at La Madeleine (which I believe is fake old because the historical location of Maille in Paris was rue Saint-André des Arts in the 6th) sells the usual Maille products and a variety of vinaigriers and moutardiers in painted faience, plus a range of products sold exclusively in the boutique, appropriately named les exclusivités boutique.

The age-old scheme such treasure hunters as myself fall for every time.

You start to look at the display of cute little jars of mustard in dozens of unusual flavors, and indeed, you wanted to taste all of them. But they’re trapped behind a glass pane, so you need to ask the saleslady to take them out for you. She is a little snappy, but she loosens up a bit — though not quite reaching the point of smiling — when you insist on knowing what her favorite flavor is (and hazelnut it is).

You make your selection, planning to use the acceptable cardboard gift boxes they provide, that can hold four little jars. And next thing you know, you’ve accidently chosen six. Tomate au piment d’Espelette (tomato and hot pepper), citron confit et harissa (preserved lemon and chili paste), vinaigre balsamique, noisette (hazelnut), orange confite et gingembre (candied orange and ginger) and myrtille et violette (blueberry and violet). But the gift box only has room for four! Might as well keep the two extra ones for yourself, no?

And this is how I justify going out for a gift and bringing home yet another jar (wait, make that two!) of flavored mustard, when I know for a fact that we already have three open ones in the fridge and Maxence only eats the plain kind. But they look pretty on the table, and what’s the harm in a little mustard fun, at 2.90€ a pop?

Tasting notes: I must say the myrtille/violette combo somewhat disappoints (lovely color, but little identifiable blueberry or violet taste). On the other hand, I am very happy with the orange confite et gingembre flavor, with its tiny little bits of candied orange rind and its slight gingery heat.

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  • carolm

    Maille used to sell a red pepper mustard in the US, I think my family members were the only purchasers. We even got in touch with the company, they don’t ship. Even though I live in NYC I feel mustard deprived without it.

  • http://sporky.net mathew

    My good friend Rebecca recently tried an orange and ginger mustard herself which is why it was a pleasure to hear about your own tasting – two raves in such a short period of time! I definitely have to go out and find myself some.

  • maryanne

    Or as I said to my husband in Monoprix one nite this past winter….”if we are going to buy this mustard and spend this much money on it, the least we can do is bring back the fancy jar!” We are addicted to the tarragon mustard we found that nite.

  • http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/ sam

    If only Maille in the US was made to the same recipe as the French. It is nothing like. They add sugar. ewww. Fred and I are totally addicted to Maille Velouté. Have you tried it Clotilde? It is SO good. We have just finished our last jar, I was all but licking the glass clean. I guess Fred’s mum is going to get a call this weekend, begging for fresh supplies to be sent!

  • http://www.shewhoeats.blogspot.com chika

    Hi Clotilde,

    So glad to know that I’m not the only one who experiences THAT all the time… you know, you really ARE meaning to choose some gift for SOMEONE, and there’s nothing wrong with it, right?

    I’m pretty naive when it comes to mustards… candied orange & ginger? Sounds sweet!

  • Stephanie

    Maille also makes the most delectible cornichons with pickeled pearl onions. I think cornichons are bound to have a culinary comeback–they are so darn cute and fun to eat!

  • feste

    When I was in France two years ago on a budget-minded trip, the only “souveniers” I brought home were eight jars of mustard. This brand sounds especially delicious! Citron confit et harissa? I wish I was in Paris!

  • http://www.sporky.net Rebecca

    Yes, Mathew mentioned that I have a jar of orange & ginger mustard in the fridge. It’s lovely. Just the right blend of sweet, tart and heat. I also have an organic raspberry mustard, a dill mustard, a cranberry honey mustard and a plain Dijon. All of them add the perfect note to any sandwich.

  • http://www.theveggiefoodie.blogspot.com Alex

    What a coincidence! I just bought a bottle of Maille Dijon mustard this morning at the supermarket. I don’t think I’d ever see any flavoured mustards around here but they sound so interesting.

  • Joan

    glass containers! I’m an addict..can remember packing my bags in Nice and my daughter looking on with “you’ve GOT to be kidding” eyes….”Sophie, we don’t have these containers in Australia…look how sweet they are!” The little jars of Bonne Maman jams were faintable..

  • http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~roy Alain Roy

    Next time you happen to be in Wisconsin in the States, you should come by the Mustard Museum.

    http://www.mustardmuseum.com/

    They sell several hundreds varieties of mustard and have a couple thousand more on display. For any mustard they sell, they will gladly let you sample them. I’ve often sampled a dozen or more mustards before making my final selection. It’s a great way to compare mustards and figure out which ones you really like. Which Dijon is the best? I have a much better idea now…

    It’s a fairly odd store, but one of my favorities. It’s unique (I’ve never seen another mustard-only store that wasn’t brand-specific) and a great place to visit. It’s also in a cute little town with antique shops, a couple of nice bookstores, and some good places to eat.

    The Mustard Museum is a bit out of the way. If you come this way, let me know and I’ll give you a ride.

    -alain

    p.s. I have no connection to the store, I’m just a satisfied customer.

  • http://parisdaily.hi-fipop.com Auntie M

    My sister had to get to Maille during her trip last week because she has become addicted to the 3 Herbes Vertes, that you can only buy at the Maille store. She bought me a small bottle to try. What a nice sister.

  • Zenitrag

    This is a bit off the subject . . . . I’d not visited this site in a while and decided to stroll thru today. As usual, my visit was wonderfully delicious! I’d signed off and decided to thumb through a recent copy of Budget Travel (May 2005) and low and behold there she was . . . . .. . Ms. Clotilde Dusoulier !!!! Clotilde your article “My Paris is Better than Yours” was wonderful! Congrats! Keep up the great work . . though I don’t know how you have time for it all!!!!

  • Fanny Farkas

    Was in the store a few weeks ago and managed to spend 150 Euros on mustards. Very easily done I must say. However what do I do with the Chocolate Mustard, any suggestions.
    Thanks
    Fanny in NYC

    • Farman

      For the chocolate mustard I recommend doing it with chicken or duck. I’ve done both chicken thighs and duck breast.

      Sprinkle salt, pepper and dried thyme on meat. Coat with 1-2 tbsp of mustard (on skin side) each piece. Then cover with 1.5-3 tbsp of panko each piece[. Cook until done (45-60min) at 325.

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