Wednesday, November 4, 2009



I should be working on my book. It’s the final polish and I only have about 50 pages left, but I had a ham and cheese sandwich earlier and I can’t stop thinking about it.

No, it wasn’t expensive ‘deli’ Black Forest ham or Virginia baked ham… just your ordinary packaged ham found in any super market. And, no it wasn’t with expensive imported gourmet Swiss freshly sliced… just low fat Swiss, again found in any super market. And, no my sandwich wasn’t on a freshly baked Kaiser roll or bakery bread… just on store bought multi-grain packaged bread. So what was it that’s compelled me to procrastinate on my book (well, to be truthful almost anything can do that lately)? Mustard! Not your everyday mustard. This is Dijon – but not your everyday Dijon… this is Edmond Fallot’s walnut Dijon mustard Moutarde Aux Noix. I’d forgotten how truly delicious Fallot mustards can be.

Earlier in this blog, I wrote a few essays about dinners that Richard and I enjoyed in Europe when he was there producing and writing television specials for the Food Network. One of those spectacular dinners I wrote about was in the medieval city of Beaune France (check out “Beaune Appetit” posted a while back) where Richard and the crew were filming a piece about gourmet mustard.

The morning after that memorable Beaune dinner we ventured to the facility of Edmond Fallot to shoot the making of his renowned mustard.

As soon as we arrived we were given clear plastic cover-ups designed like scrubs to cover our clothes and shower caps to contain our hair. The plant was very sanitary… although they did stop short of making us ‘scrub in.’

The guys (Richard and the crew) shot the bottling room, the labeling room and the packing room. When they finished, we were led to the second floor where the 20 + varieties of mustard are made, including gingerbread mustard and black currant mustard.

The fermenting fumes of vinegar and peppers were overwhelming. As Jason, the cameraman, climbed a ladder to shoot inside one of the huge stainless steel vats, his eyes began to burn and tears streamed down his cheeks.

 He couldn’t see – not a good thing if you’re a cameraman. Every other guy was busy doing something, so I grabbed some tissues from a nearby table, climbed up a second ladder and wiped his eyes… then wiped my eyes… then his again, as he leaned over the vat and rolled tape. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house! But Jason was finally able to see his way through the taping.

The shoot ended with our Fallot tour guide taking us all to Le Benaton for lunch where the guys shot the chef making a langoustine (a tiny, skinny cousin to the lobster) dish that he layered in tiers on our plates with a variety of mustard sauces made with Fallot's mustards of the Gods. The dish was heavenly.

It’s been a few years since that shoot, but having Fallot’s wonderful walnut Dijon on my otherwise ordinary sandwich today, reminded me it’s often the ‘accessories’ that make the ordinary extraordinary.


Susan said...

Love this post. Really like the conversational style.
Where do I get the mustard.

Anonymous said...

Am intrigued by vat of mustard. Could I possible dip my ham and cheese into, on second thought take a dip in it. Yummm.

ilona saari said...

As long as you don't put your face near the open fat, Maris. I can't tell you how 'burny' it is. My eyes were red for a couple of hours after we left.

And, Susan, you can find the mustard in Williams-Sonomas, and if you're in Studio City at the Village Gourmet. I think other gourmet shops and markets also carry it around the country.

ilona saari said...

oops - I meant Vat, Maris -- ;o)

Anonymous said...

Friends of mine went to that village in France and brought me back a beautifully wrapped 5-pack of Edmond Fallet moutardes, each one with a different exotic flavoring.

I savored 4 of them on various sandwiches, but have held on to the last one for quite a while for an odd reason. Because of my poor French and equally poor bad eyesight, I had the idea that the main ingredient was estrogen. Not something I'd care for with ham and cheese. But with the French, you never know.

However, now using my light-seeking magnifier, I see that the star ingredient is Estragon, or in plain English, tarragon.

In the words of that great word- mangler, Emily Litella, "Never mind!"

saucyredhead said...

When we were in France a few years ago Tommy fell in love with the mustard, and kept asking the waiter what kind of mustard was on his sandwich. The answer was always the same, "moutarde." And Tommy would say, yes, I KNOW it's moutarde, but what kind of moutrade? "Moutarde." We finally solved the mystery and I brought back a half dozen little stoneware crocks of Maille Moutarde Au Vin Blanc (poured fresh from the "well" at the Maille store), packed carefully in my luggage. Of course I can always buy it at Williams Sonoma (heck, I even found it at Ralph's recently), but it'll never match the stuff in those little crocks!

ilona saari said...

LOL! A lot. but have to ask, emily - were those friends named richard and ilona?

And Ann, you must try the Follet mustard - it comes in crocks and little pails, too.

Anonymous said...

Re: Emily Littela.


S Lloyd said...

I am French and never went there. Thanks for sharing,. I'll surely try thus pretty place