Flavour On The Go: A Visit to the Maille Flavour Studio

Maille mustards Prisma illustration

Vancouverites are used to consoling themselves with our proximity to mountains, forests, and beaches. It takes our minds off the things we secretly wish we had closer proximity to – like the Maille boutiques that can be found in places like Paris, London, and New York.

Happily, Maille Canada brought the boutique experience to us last weekend, when they visited the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival.

They were kind enough to invite a number of bloggers to an early afternoon media event to kick off the day’s activities. I was happy to say yes, hoping that I’d have a chance to sample some more of their Malossol pickles and to try some of their exclusive mustards. I did both, and more besides.

Maille treats and custom mustard

Maille had set up work stations where visitors could mix their own custom mustards (I used their Moutarde à l’Ancienne as a base, adding raspberries, rosemary, and black pepper). They had both their commercial and boutique mustards at the ready, with bread sticks and cornichons standing by. There was a cocktail station, serving tiny Maille crocks of the Que ca Maille!, which blends Dijon mustard with lemon, apple juice, thyme, and vodka. And there were waves of appetizers that made the most of Maille’s products.

Maille Gourmet Mustards

Tasting their various mustards one after the other is a good education. Their Chablis mustard is bracingly strong, but nuanced. Their flavoured mustards run from ones that could easily be eaten alone to those that are meant to complement other flavours or finish a dish.

Harry Lalousis, Maille mustard sommelier, highlighted mustard’s role as an ingredient in his presentation to us. He asked us to think about how the mustards in our kitchens can enhance the food we cook, while breaking free of recipes in favour of creativity and taste.

Maille Vinaigrette Demonstration

As a demonstration, he shared his vinaigrette ratio with us: 3:2:1 – olive oil:vinegar:mustard. Once you have that, you can let your creativity flow, based on what is in your pantry and what you’re preparing. He quickly made up two vinaigrettes on the spot, using his ratio and measuring by eye. His first vinaigrette made use of Maille’s raspberry vinegar and original Dijon mustard. The second, their white wine vinegar and mustard with White Wine, Mangoes and Thai Spices. The first is perfect for topping a salad of spicy greens. The second, marinating chicken, fish, or even tofu. I enjoyed the way he made creative cooking so accessible, while demonstrating ways to make the best of the products we’d been sampling.

Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival

Afterward, I was almost too content to visit the food truck festival and accompanying artisan market. I’m glad I didn’t skip them – the artisan market was full of BC producers of wine, spirits, and beer, along with artisans and makers. The food truck festival, with around 100 to choose from, provided enough exercise to whet even the most sated of the mustard samplers.

Artisan Market at The Anvil

I came away with contacts that I’d like to pursue in future blog posts and a full belly from the (more than I care to admit) treats I found at food trucks. I’ll be marking my calendar for next year and crossing my fingers that Maille’s Flavour Studio will make a return visit.

Maille mustards and cornichons

If you’re in Montréal, you’ll have the last chance this year to sample Maille’s boutique line – the Flavour Studio will be visiting Festival YULEAT next weekend. I’m tempted to fly out.

I received an invitation to the Flavour Studio press event, along with a jar of custom mustard and a jar of Maille’s Malossol Cornichons from Maille Canada, but received no other consideration. All opinions are my own.

Garden Succotash with Cornichons

Garden Succotash with Cornichons

In high summer there are few things that make me as happy as pulling fresh food out of my own garden. Well, maybe a delivery from my parents of Chilliwack corn and whatever they’ve been growing in their own garden.

When that coincides with a delivery from Maille Canada, I start feeling ecstatic.

Maille Cornichons with Caramelized Onions

Maille was kind enough to send me a jar of the newest edition to their range of cornichons – Gherkins with Caramelized Onions. Knowing how good their cornichons are is a liability. I found it difficult not to open the jar before I’d settled on a recipe to use them in. This would have been a very different post then, as they don’t last long around here.

Willpower prevailed and I came up with a version of one of my favourite side dishes, succotash, to showcase the flavour of these wonderful cornichons. Succotash is one of those infinitely variable dishes that can stray very far from its original components (corn, lima beans, and tomatoes), while still retaining its character.

I’ve made a really good winter slow cooker version with edamame and frozen corn, but my favourite time to make it is right now, when the best of the summer’s corn is at its height.

I love corn on the cob – who doesn’t? But fresh corn has so much more to offer – I eat it raw in salads, cooked with the cob in soup, and sliced off the cob in almost any dish I can work it into.

As for cornichons, I’ll eat them straight out of the jar, but love to add them (and their brine) to salads, meat dishes – or again – any dish I can work them into.

These cornichons are flavoured with caramelized onions in a brine rich with grape must, wine vinegar, and mustard and coriander seeds. They’re delicately piquant and provide a perfect acid that enhances the fresh summer flavours of this succotash without overwhelming them.

In winter, I want a succotash that’s almost a stew, but in summer I like to add raw vegetables (like cherry tomatoes) to the mix. It’s much more like a warm salad and the brine works with the sauce provided by the corn, Roma tomato, and butter beans, to act like a vinaigrette.

We ate the succotash with roasted new potatoes and beets and steamed green beans – all fresh from the garden. It made for a hearty vegan meal. But, this could easily act as a barbecue side. It would be particularly great with grilled pork chops or chicken, along with a piquant potato salad

It’s also adaptable to whatever you’re bringing home from the fresh markets or pulling from your own garden. The green beans could have easily been added to the succotash, the butter beans replaced by Lima beans, Borlotti beans, or edamame. But don’t skip the cornichons or their brine. You’d regret it.

Garden Succotash with Cornichons again

Garden Succotash with Cornichons

Makes 6-8 servings

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 ears (4 cups of kernels) fresh corn
  • 2 398 mL (14 oz) cans of butter beans
  • 1 sweet pepper (any colour), diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, coarsely diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 6 Maille Cornichons (Gherkins) with Caramelized Onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 Tbsp brine, from the jar of cornichons

Cut the kernels from the cob using a chef’s knife, while standing the corn cob in a large bowl. Slowly slide the knife under the kernels, keeping as close to the cob as you can (and keeping your fingers well out of the way). Discard the cobs and set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or pan. Add the onion, with a pinch of the salt, cooking until translucent and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute or two more, until soft.

Turn the heat to medium-low. Add the corn kernels, butter beans, sweet pepper, Roma tomato, and thyme sprigs, with the salt and a generous grinding of fresh black pepper. Stir well. Cook until the corn is barely tender and all ingredients are heated through, about 7-10 minutes.

Remove the thyme sprigs. Add the cherry tomatoes and cornichons, with a tablespoon of brine from the jar. (Make sure you get some of the caramelized onions along with the brine.) Mix well and serve immediately.

Overhead view of Garden Succotash with Cornichons

I will be tracking down these cornichons as soon as this jar is empty. They’re a staple in my cooking and on my snack table, too. They’ve taken their place alongside the Maille’s mustards that fill almost an entire shelf on the door of my refrigerator.

But, you don’t have to live vicariously through me – these cornichons are in wide release across Canada. And if you live in Metro Vancouver, you’ll also soon have an opportunity to sample some of Maille’s more exclusive offerings, in person. Maille is going to be bringing their Flavour Studio to New Westminster’s Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest on August 20th. They will be holding culinary workshops and mixing custom gourmet mustards. Their exclusive fresh mustard will be on tap and headmaster mustard sommelier Harry Lalousis will be there to demonstrate ways to embellish your cooking with Maille’s mustards.

I’ll be there and I’ll be writing about the day shortly afterward, so if you don’t join me, you’ll have to settle for experiencing it all vicariously. I know what my choice would be.

I received a jar of Maille’s Gherkins with Caramelized Onions from Maille Canada, but received no other consideration. All opinions are my own.