February 28, 2014

Mustard for one, mustard for all

One of the great guarantees about life in France is that every table will have mustard on it. The average French person consumes 1 kilogram of mustard per year. People use it everywhere and all the time, for sauces, marinades, dressings, and just for dipping. It is the quintessential condiment. In Burgundy, of course, one is especially assaulted by mustard, notably the moutarde de Dijon, that famous spicy yellow goodness. There are not many specialty producers left, however, and the market is dominated by Maille, in Dijon, and Edmond Fallot, in Beaune. The latter offers wonderful tours of its facility as well as of a mustard museum.

Old school
With about 30 employees, La Moutarderie Fallot is a family affair. The business is committed to the ancient artisanal ways of mustard production, namely by using traditional millstones. In its small facility, built so that the neighbors would not find it “to be disagreeable to the eye,” one can nibble on and smell seeds and then see them weighed, soaked, milled, and transformed into mustard. The ingredients are simplicity itself: seeds, wine and/or vinegar, and salt. The process is enjoyable to watch, and your eyes will definitely burn at least once during the tour. 

6 of the forty available

Without giving away the juicy bits, one will know the following facts at the conclusion of the factory tour:

·      When la moutarde de Dijon first appeared on the scene
·      Which country is the largest producer of mustard seeds in the world
·      When the mustard plant flowers and when it is harvested
·      How many mustard makers Fallot employs to churn out 22,000 pots per day
·      How long a new recipe is tested before it is commercialized (during a recent visit, yuzu mustard was the newest flavor among the 40+ on offer by Fallot)
·      The top ten countries for export

Of course, the fun really begins at the end. In the tasting room/shop, you can déguste all the mustards for sale, from the funky cassis to the moutarde de Bourgogne, made with ingredients from the region.

Different pots, different blends, but at the base, always mustard, mustard, mustard

What: Mustard factory tour
Where: 31, rue du Faubourg Bretonnière, Beaune, Côte d’Or, Burgundy
When: About 30,000 visitors come for tours every year, so book ahead. There are eight tours a day in high season (summer) limited to 25 people per tour. Call 1-2 days in advance.
How Much: Tours are 10 euros, mustards are around 2-4 euros each

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