While on weekend food safari (scored: manchego, kraeme kase, smoked mozzarella, soppresata, genoa salami and muffaletta for Oscars antipasti), I was reminded that there is nothing like a Manhattan supermarket. If you only experience the city through media, you might never think that urban superpeople on the move need to buy groceries, so somehow it's touching to be among us when we do. For those who've never had the pleasure: picture a supermarket where there's barely room to maneuver yourself, let alone a cart, and then picture that space full of lifers piloting push-carts filled with whatever can be stored in tiny kitchenettes.
Another secret of urban foraging is the Roland Corporation, a New York City-based food importer whose offerings grace my cupboards in every format from tinned anchovies for Caesar salad to fragrant pumpkinseed oil for the accompanying pasta. Someone at Roland knows me and my kind: we orthodox mustardphiliacs cannot enter a space where condiments are vended without investigating what treats the mustard aisle is offering. And that's how, in a Chelsea Gristedes, I discovered Roland Tarragon Mustard.
Roland Tarragon mustard is a French import. Among aficionados, where the imports of choice are German, English or French, I'm a French man. Perhaps it's the French aesthetic of relating of mustard fields to vineyards rather than breweries, but French mustards often achieve a breadth and depth of true mustard character that makes many other mustards seem unrealized at best, anemic at worst.. Not that all other mustards are awful -- quite the opposite. Many of my favorites are American, and one I absolutely love I can only find in the grocery stores in Chinatown.
Like most Roland mustards, this one is thick, smooth and fragrant. The tarragon is a nice presence in the mustard, perfectly balanced in a suspension of mustardy heat. Though mustard seeds are listed in the ingredients, it is not a seeded mustard -- it slides silkily off the spatula onto the bread or, just as likely, directly into the mouth. It will be delicious on a chicken club with bacon and a good smoky Gouda, and has already made a lovely, velvety dijonnaise for grilled chops. When I get to it, I plan to use this mustard in an enhanced tarragon cream for poached salmon. Until then, I'm headed back to the store -- there's also a Roland mustard with fines herbes that I've just got to try.
Roland mustards and other Roland foods are available at many local grocery stores, and online.