Maybe you remember: a few weeks ago, I had a little mostarda problem. No, I didn’t have a version of gout, as some of you suspected. I was stuck on a recipe that I was testing. A recipe for mostarda that I wanted to include in the Di Bruno Bros. Cheese Guide.
Trouble was, I’d never actually eaten mostarda, although I kept reading how good it was paired with whiffy Italians (by which I mean: cheese). And so I made a few sad quacks on Twitter, and a few days later a box of mostarda arrived in my mailbox. Two glistening jars — one made of apricots, the other figs — from Ortensia Blue, an online retailer that supports small family businesses in northern Italy.
Mostarda is the cheese lover’s magic trick. It looks syrupy and fruity, right? But it tastes savory, like mustard. In fact, the experience is a little dislocating, like drinking a cup of what looks like black coffee, only to discover it’s balsamic vinegar.
What I like about Manestrini Mostarda in particular is that the fruit is in tact — you’ve got whole apricots, whole figs, and each one is positively dripping in mustardy serum. You can drizzle a little syrup on a nub of cheese to add a titillating kick, then you can pop a chunk of the fruit in your mouth if you want to see stars.
Mostarda really flashes some heat.
Alas, dear ones, I did not end up including a recipe for mostarda in the book, but that’s because I have a feeling that this is the beginning of a long and beautiful mostarda journey. Now that I’ve eaten mostarda on Taleggio and Limburger, I’m beginning to slather it on smoked turkey sandwiches and charcuterie. Momentous. Can we call 2012 the Summer of Mostarda?
Below are a few mostarda recipes I’m perusing online. In the meantime, I implore you to try the real deal from Italy. And if you’re already a convert, message me. Let’s smack our lips and talk of fruit and cheese.
- Mostarda a la Marc Vetri
- Cooking with Amy makes Mostarda
- Culinate’s Pear Mostarda
- Fermented Fig Mostarda
- Food 52’s Fourteenth Century Recipe
Note: most recipes listed online require a short prep, but the real deal appears to require fermentation and mustard oil, not powdered or prepared mustard. Turns out mustard oil, is illegal.