The French countryside in the spring is one of my favorite places to visit in person or in my daydreams. Picturesque lavender fields set against a perfect blue sky are paradise on earth, and the beauty and romance are never quite fully captured in pictures and words. I treasure each and every delicacy from France, whether it is gorgeous chocolate or a gooey cheese. This spring, French mustard expert Maille’s garden-inspired trio of mustards captures the spirit of France- the focus on the most beautiful and aromatic herbs and high quality ingredients. Michelin-starred chef Bruno Loubet collaborated with Maille to create each flavor, drawing inspiration from his childhood garden in rural France. Maille has been the expert on all things mustard since 1747, and I still have the clay pot which years ago held my first tastes of the exquisite Maille condiment. I recall savoring every bit of it, and spread it on anything I could find. Who knew mustard could be so addictive? The new trio comes gift-ready in a beautiful box fit for the treasures it holds, and the three varieties include Mustard with Carrot and a Hint of Shallot, Mustard with Olives and Herbes de Provence, and Mustard with White Wine, Beet, and a Hint of Honey.
The mustards are the perfect accompaniment to a plate of charcuterie for brunch or cocktail hour and complement a range of cheeses. The mustard flavors range from a hint of sweetness to balance out the tangy mustard (Carrot and Shallot) to the savory deep Mustard with Olives and Herbes de Provence. I love entertaining, it gives me a chance to try out recipes I wouldn’t attempt for everyday cooking. For a recent dinner party, I made the Avocado and Crab Gratin, which is about as easy as it gets for French cooking. The creamy avocado was heightened by the herbal mustard, which brought out the delicate flavor of the luscious lump crab meat. The only tricky part to the recipe is making the sabayon, which is really not as intimidating as it sounds. It’s quite fun to “whisk energetically” as I can hear the chef saying in a French accent! My guests thoroughly enjoyed the novel dish, not a bite was left untouched, and it was a great conversation starter as well.