Mustard Bonanza

Yesterday's post was the bacon showdown between the Czech and English bacon with the results being a dead on tie. Today it is another showdown. This time its mustard. 

In this corner we have Caraway Seed mustard. Weighing in with ingredients including caraway seeds, beer, white wine, salt and "spices".

Caraway Mustard

In the other corner we have Bavarian Sweet mustard. Ingredients include mustard seeds, beer, dark cane sugar, salt, and "spices". 

Sweet Bavarian Mustard

Just like the bacon challenge both mustards were from Kocurek Family Charcuterie. As a matter of full disclosure I receive no compensation from Kocurek.

Though I would like to. 

Seriously, free sausage would rock my world. 

Just saying. 

The first time I tasted the mustard I just about choked. It had nothing to do with the mustard and everything about expectations. My loving wife who said she was getting some ice cream and wandered off into the kitchen came back with two spoons and told me to open my mouth. Being a good blindly obedient husband I opened my mouth anticipating a cool creamy treat. Instead she had put the mustard on a couple of spoons. My reaction was instant and repellent.

I know those with a refined palate can easily taste condiments by themselves. OK, well my palate is not that refined. I think the initial shock of the ice cream/mustard substitution stuck for a few minutes because even when my wife put a little on wheat thins the taste didn't agree with me. 

So I though about what fine dining dish would best allow me to analyze and break down the flavors and subtle undertones of the two mustards. Would it be prosciutto, roast beef, braised pork belly? No, I knew I would need something more substantial. I would need something that hands down would be the true measure of mustard. 

I knew there could only be one food I could use....
Hot dogs with Caraway Mustard (left) and Sweet Bavarian Mustard (right)

That's right. For me, regular ole' hot dogs are the true measure of any mustard. Again, I make no pretensions about having a super refined palate. In this case I just used Ball Park beef franks. Over the last couple of months I've tried to steer more away from processed foods but when we got the mustard I knew I needed regular processed hot dogs. 

I could have gotten frankfurters from Kocurek also ( I hear they are really good) but I was concerned having both new hot dogs and new mustard wouldn't let me sample the mustard. I wouldn't know how much of the taste came from the franks and how much from the mustard. 

Looking at the pictures above it looks like I caked on the mustard and you might have expected the mustard to completely overwhelm the hot dogs. Surprisingly not. The taste of both was remarkably restrained considered how much I put on. I liked both. You might also suspect (based on the pictures above) that both would be "seedy" to the point of ruining the texture of whatever was eaten with mustard. Also, surprisingly not. Neither was seedy to the point of being distracting though the Caraway mustard was slightly more seedy than the Bavarian. 

Both have that slightly bitter taste with the Bavarian having a stronger bitterness than the Caraway. Probably (or maybe) because the Bavarian has both beer and vinegar. In many cases the beer substitutes the vinegar instead of both being used. 

The Caraway taste in the Caraway mustard really comes out when eating it and sifting through the mustard with your tongue. That sounds kind of gross and what I really mean is rolling the seeds aside while swallowing then really tasting the Caraway. 

Both were good and I would recommended both but if I was on desert island with only one mustard (and hot dogs) I would probably go with the Sweet Bavarian. The great thing about the Bavarian was it was only slightly sweet and not the overwhelming sweetness you find in store bought brands. 

Overall I would give both mustards a big spoon up. 



This weekend at the Pearl Brewery Farmer's Market we picked up two different kinds of bacon from Kocurek Family Charcuterie. We got Czech bacon and English bacon and decided to have a BLT off between the two.

The picture below shows the Czech bacon on the left and English bacon on the right.
The Czech bacon was definitely more akin to traditional bacon than the English bacon. Even looking at the picture above you can see the difference in the marbling. The English bacon seemed more like slices of ham when a thin cut of fat along the outside. The Czech bacon though had the same traditional streaks of fast.

Smelling both bacons before pan frying them it was apparent these were definitely not Oscar Mayer over processed cuts. They both smelled truly smoked and cured. It was a distinct heavy smokiness that made my mouth water. I started cooking the Czech bacon first since I felt like I needed to cook it more like traditional bacon. I heated it up slowly so I could avoid the inevitable under cooked curls that pop up when you throw cold bacon into a hot pan.

Taste wise the Czech bacon didn't have the over powering saltiness of store bought bacon. Some might say that lack of saltiness is a minus. I would disagree and say the lack of saltiness is a plus. It lets you actually taste the bacon instead of eating a fatty piece of salt lick.

I wasn't sure how long to cook the English bacon. Since it was more like a slice of ham than traditional bacon I didn't cook it nearly as long. I just waited until it got some good brown spots and the whole piece started to curl again. The thin trim of fat around the English bacon disintegrated within a minute or two of putting it in the skillet.

The taste and texture of the English bacon was exactly what I expected based on how it looked. It tasted like a slice of ham minus the heavy salt. The texture though was more "meaty" than sliced ham from the grocery store.

We tried both hams on BLTS and as individual strips. Both were good but my personal preference was the English bacon. It may just be the fact that I've been conditioned to salty bacon but (as a sandwich topper) the Czech bacon didn't quite do it for me. I think some of that may have been that I just overcooked the Czech bacon.

As a side with eggs I would probably lean more towards the Czech bacon. Both bacons were great and it was really fun to try something other than Oscar Mayer processed pork.


Oh, A Blog.

Well, as I wrote in my first post I got kind of distracted and wandered off from the blog. I have some extra time this week since I'm on vacation so I thought I might touch base with everyone again. 

Since my last post my wife and I have started going to the Farmer's Market at the Pearl Brewery every Saturday. I'm really starting to enjoy the fresh vegetables and getting to actually know and be familiar with the farmers we're buying our food from. I'm not a hippy type at all. I don't insist on purely organic and completely pesticide free food. For me the best part of the Farmer's Market is a combination of the freshness and kind of fun aspect of trying to use the food that is currently in season. 

There is an odd mix of people at the Farmer's Market. They generally fall into one of a couple of categories. There are the hippy types. Most easily identified by their long hair, minimal make up (on the ladies), tie dye, and the baby wraps they carry their younguns in. A good 99% of them have t-shirts that somewhere somehow some way include the work "green" or "eco" on them. They aren't full blown Haight Ashbury hippies but they are as close as San Antonio conservatives get. 

Then there are the yuppie types. While the hippies use the minimalist baby wraps the yuppies go with the full blown over priced European baby strollers. I know they are overpriced because my wife who works retail constantly points them to and says "that one cost $700" or "oh my gawd, that piece of crap is $1200." They are also spotted because they roll up in their SUV's with a "Think Green" sticker on the back. 

I tease though. It really is a good mix of folks and I wouldn't want it any other way. It is actually that odd mixture of folks that makes the Farmer's Market a good time. 

I've made some discoveries since we started going to the Farmer's Market. 

One being that despite an unfortunate and tragic experience with Hickory Farms smoked sausage when I was 11 I am finally at the point that I can eat and enjoy sausage again. 

Kocurek Family Charcuterie, who makes a weekly appearance at Pearl Brewery, makes some absolutely fantastic sausage and pates. They offer a terrific variety of sausages, pates, mustards, terrines, and other items. We haven't bought anything from them so far that we haven't loved. I think the only exception is the pork belly boudin we got but I don't blame that on them. We hadn't ever had boudin before and I think it was just a little different than we expected. We've gotten everything from spicy Italian sausage, coq a vin sausage, czech bacon, andouille, and a crazy good Currywurst that they told us Germans eat as street food. 

I've also learned that (at least at Pearl Brewery) the Farmer's Market is equal parts market and an event. The market runs 0900-1300 every Saturday. At least every other Saturday there is some type of event.

There are cooking demos from local chefs most Saturdays at 0930. Chefs from some of San Antonio's best known restaurants show up to teach us a little something. 

Even more often there is live music from local musicians. Well, I assume they are local. They range from the adequate to the very good. Folk, zydeco, bluegrass, and country tend to dominate. There is often a little jazz thrown in as well. 

Overall the farmer's market at Pearl Brewery is a terrific time. A hodge podge of personalities, amazing fresh food, entertainment, and delicious samples.