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Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Magnifico Condiment from Italy

                                                 Mostarda di frutta is quintessential Italian

Have you ever heard of mostarda di frutta?  If you’ve been in Northern Italy during the winter there’s a very good chance it’s been on many restaurant menus as an accompaniment to a meat dish.  Mostarda is major flavor bomb.  It is often served with the classical bollito misto (an over-the-moon tasty assortment of boiled meats), however, it can also be found as a side relish with cheeses that can take its sharpness.  I’ve even seen it served to the side of sausages, or even spooned over fish. 

I think of mostarda somewhat like an Italian version of chutney.  While some may think because of its name that it’s a type of mustard, it is not.  (It does, however, have mustard oil as an ingredient).  Although it has sugar and fruit, it is definitely not a jam or jelly---and it is not sweet.  It has cayenne, but it is not spicy.  It’s not salty or acidic. In fact, it’s none of these things alone.   It is, however, a unique combination of sweet and savory, salty and spicy, with just enough of an acid backbone.

Often referred to as simply “mostarda,” this yummy condiment can easily be made at home, or can be purchased online or in upscale markets such as Whole Foods.  It can be made with a variety of fruits (although the area in which it originated often used quince and grapes in the beginning).  I’ve seen it made with everything from cherries and figs, to plums and even citrus.

Mostarda di frutta is uniquely Italian.   It’s also a classical wintertime condiment.  Why not have a bollito misto party ?  (Similar to a fondue party only with bollito misto placed in the center of the table in the pot in which it was boiled.)  Bring out some great Barolo or Amarone and invite a group of Italophiles over for a night of wining and dining.  I guarantee you that everyone will go wild over the mostarda!

Buon appetito.

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