Walter Mencken 4 p.m., May 3
Enlightened Condiment Shines Beyond Blackout
Like many a local, I was caught off guard and with a fridge full of rapidly warming food when the lights went out in SD the week before last. As I crept along Interstate 15 toward my juiceless domicile, all I could think about was using up as many of my groceries as possible. After all, from what I was hearing on the radio, this thing was huge and could last for days. Yikes! Being a food fanatic who collects cheese like grandmas horde stamps, commemorative teaspoons, and hard candies from the mid-20th Century, I had lots of fine fromage to start consuming before it got funkdafied beyond the level of mold and stinkiness I enjoy.
Fortunately, my son had just started back to school, so we had a great deal of deli meat to go with some of the more sandwich-friendly cheeses. So, when I returned home two miles and two hours later, I strategized, then made a 10-second dip into my Frigidaire to grab all of the items I’d need for dinner — cheese, beer, meat, beer, veggies, beer and condiments — without greatly compromising the icebox’s residual coldness. In my haste, rather than grabbing the Sierra Nevada porter and pale ale-based mustards I’d gone in for, I grabbed two jars of mustard from a different producer, a local artisan by the name of Zach Negin.
The “Chief Mustard Grinder” for his own SoNo Trading Co., Negin has developed two recipes for his condiment of choice, which just so happens to be one of my favorite spreads on the face of the planet. Unwilling to open the refrigerator and lose any more precious chill, I sampled from SoNo’s Champagne Garlic mustard as well as their Hong Kong Habañero. The latter delivered bold flavor, but was too loose for my liking. It was like spreading tomato juice versus tomato ketchup. But the champagne vinegar…now that was a winner! Thicker and more substantial, it’s got a lot going for it in the flavor department — a tart spike from champagne vinegar and a bittersweetness that really punched up my blackout-inspired homage to the day after Thanksgiving. It doesn’t take a once-in-forever catastrophe to pop this champagne and I’ve done so on several occasions since. SoNo mustards are available online as well as at a number of local retail establishments. A full list is available on the company’s website.
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