Savory Mustards: Delicious and Unique
by Susan Montgomery
We were excited and also curious recently when we had the opportunity to taste some unique artisan mustards being produced by a new company based in Southern California. Sassy Mama's Mustards is the brainchild of radio celebrity Kat Ellis and Shawna Smoot, the owner of Temecula Valley Cheese Company.
Food connoisseurs have long been fascinated with mustard, one of the world’s most ancient condiments—believed to have first been produced in India about 3000 BC where it was initially celebrated for its medicinal benefits. The early Greeks used mustard for general relief of arthritis and muscular pain and even to cure toothaches. Throughout history, mustard has also been used for stimulating the appetite, soothing the digestive system, clearing the sinuses, and increasing blood circulation. I do have a friend who runs straight to her refrigerator for a tablespoon of mustard every time she has a muscle cramp and she swears it works miracles. (I’ve tried this too and it really works.)
But our group of writers (from the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association) was tasting mustards for their distinctive flavor combinations and pairings with some excellent cheeses. The mamas call their mustards “cheeky, lively, and boldly smart” and they are all that and more. Kat and Shawna create the mustards themselves in the small kitchen at Temecula Valley Cheese Company using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The beers and wines they use are local and mustard seeds are supplied by Old Town Spice & Tea Merchants.
We paired the mustards and cheeses with three excellent wines from Hart Family Winery in Temecula, including Hart’s 2013 Arneis, which is a crispy, dry white with floral aromas and stone fruit tastes. While Hart’s rich fruity reds, 2012 Mourvedre and 2012 Syrah, were also excellent, especially with the more pungent cheeses and spicier mustards, I preferred the refreshing Arneis with most of the cheeses.
We tried seven different flavors of mustards. They were all wonderful, but my three favorites were these:
Lively Lemon Basil: If this cheese were a beverage, it would be a luscious martini. Ingredients include white wine, fresh basil, and zesty lemon and lime juices. I loved this savory mustard with the Naked Goat cheese from Spain, which was earthy, mild and creamy with a bit of a tang that was enhanced by the herbal mustard.
Sassy Sage: Made with white wine, this mellow mixture might be the most versatile of all the mustards we tasted with its subtle hints of sage. That’s why I think this mustard went so well with the French Beaufort cheese, made from cow’s milk, which was creamy but fairly strong and pungent. The mustard did not overwhelm the cheese but complimented it.
Cheeky Cilantro Lime: This mustard, made with wine, cilantro, lime juice and a dash of pepper, was unique and very tasty. I liked it with the buttery Lampchopper sheep’s milk cheese, which had a citrusy tang that was enhanced by the mustard.
We also tasted several other bodacious, delicious concoctions: Passionate Honey-Pecan Ginger, Pompous Pomegranate. and Giddy Garlic Cracked Black Pepper, but the inventive mustard creators are always coming up with new, creative flavors. Every mustard Sassy Mama’s produces is one-of-a-kind and carefully crafted. Each nicely presented 4-ounce jar of mustard retails for about $6.95. Keep in mind that these are very flavorful mustards and you need just a dab. A little goes a long way.
Sassy’s Mamas mustards is ever evolving and outlets will undoubtedly continue to expand, but right now you can purchase these mustards at the Temecula Valley Cheese Company (along with some great cheeses, of course) and at Artisan’s Palate in Temecula. You can also place an order by calling Kat Ellis at 951-294-0741 or Shawna Smoot at 951-312-0260. You can email them at SassyMamasMustard@yahoo.com or look for them on their Facebook page—www.facebook.com/sassymamasmustard. Plans are underway for website sales. Stay tuned. You will undoubtedly keep hearing about these fabulous mustards.
Photography by Todd Montgomery.
We were guests of Mama's Sassy Mustards and the Temecula Valley Cheese Company, but the opinions in this article are completely our own.