How to Throw A Mustard Tasting Party (Because Yes, You Really Should Have One)

May 23, 2018

“Oh yes, mustard!  That'll do … Mustard?  Don't let's be silly.  Now lemon, that's different.”  ~ Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland

Photo Credit: Levebo.com

My husband has been traveling quite a bit as of late

Tonight I surveyed the sink and realized every dish accounted for is my own or something I made for the pets.  Smoothie blender on the drying rack, straggler odds and ends on the kitchen counter from this weekend's Spaghetti Saturday .. waiting to be tucked away

I realize I can spend the week not cooking much .. tuna melt for dinner, an extra fluffy omelet.  Red pepper soup, with a sprinkling of blue cheese, of course.  But then I make my way to the bedroom where the puppies have found their spots, and see only one pillowcase on the bed, also waiting for me and me alone

I send him a good night text, an extra emoji for sentiment.  Appreciative of someone who, on more than one occasion over the past couple of months, has opened the refrigerator to find only

his wife's mustard experiments

— — —

Listen, I don't claim to be an expert on tastings

The last one we were invited to involved friends with wine and came complete with grilled pizza, strawberries, and chocolate  (These things I know)  Not to mention intense conversations about mouthfeel, wine legs, tannins, notes of tobacco and freshly cut grass(?)  (All foreign languages) 

But a culinary experiment?  As in a bag of seeds turned tasty condiment?  That's way too good to resist

We truly know the best group of people and hardly need an excuse to get together.  Who knew so many love mustard too and were intrigued by the prospect of making their own?  Plus, everybody loves trying new things.  And really, who doesn't love a party?

There is no recipe, of course.  But I do have a few tips and tricks .. lessons we've learned along the way

How to Throw A Mustard Tasting Party (Because Yes, You Really Should Have One) - Who knew so many people love mustard. And really, who doesn't love a party?

Foundation First

A key to success is the diversity of mustards you've chosen (or, in our case, made from scratch)

If purchasing, I'd pick out one or two that are common, a few exotic varieties, and a range of flavors in between.  The idea being to nudge everyone out of their condiment comfort zones with different hues, heat levels, textures, and tastes.

You could also do a little research as well as pre-tasting.  For example, I knew ahead of time that my family loves mustards with undertones of Guinness and horseradish.  On the other hand, lots of friends have sweet-tooths and so I also chose a few with hints of honey.  It's nice to have a little something for everyone

 Quite honestly, you don't have to go crazy on the amount.  I was surprised by how a little mustard .. went a very long way

To give you an idea .. we had 25 people at our tasting. Somewhere between a half to a cup of each kind of mustard (enough to fill a ramekin or small bowl).  Twelve mustards in total, which was definitely on the high side.  You'll want guests to experience a lot of tastes, but not so many that they're palates are fatigued

 

To label or not to label?

This is the question

We originally labeled our mustards with only a number, because we didn't want to bias anyone.  Although I quickly wished I'd have done it differently

As people started to taste, I realized it would nice for everyone to know what they're eating.  For example, some wanted to avoid alcohol and others didn't like things spicy.  Therefore, next time I'll include a placard beside each, listing the mustard's name, main ingredients, and a few fun facts or even funny mustard jokes

How to Throw A Mustard Tasting Party (Because Yes, You Really Should Have One) - Who knew so many people love mustard. And really, who doesn't love a party?

 

Wander and Mingle or Togetherness

We debated.  Should we stagger and space the mustards in a few different rooms to encourage guests to wander about and mingle?  Or, situate them in one spot, knowing full well that this would be the gathering spot?

My first thought was to stagger them, but because the house was already filled with tables and chairs for dinner, we settled on a long table in the living room.  It worked really well and it was fun to hear everybody comparing notes:

“This one's too hot.  This one's too sweet.  This one's just right!”

 

Dip it Good

Mustard is definitely the star, but you'll want to think about ideas of things for dipping.  Do you have a little something for everyone?  Here's our formula if you're in need of a place to start:

(** Note, cut everything into small pieces, with lots of toothpicks for dipping)

Meat – We served baked ham, although next time I'm going to splurge and make Joe Beef's Peameal Bacon.  I'd also think about hot dogs or bratwurst/sausage.  For non-pork eaters, some roast or corned beef

Cheese – Mild cheeses such as fontina, brie, or Colby Jack.  Nothing with too forward of a flavor.  Although if your dairy guy at the Co-op recommends a new pretty awesome cheddar, don't say no

Bread and Crackers – They're nice for tasting as well as palate-cleansing.  Try a mix of crispy table crackers with thick and crunchy fig crackers, or go simple with focaccia, rolls, breadsticks or hunks of naan.  You'll want to include a gluten-free version of each as well.  I'm always surprised by how many people are avoiding gluten

Pretzels – Pretzel sticks are a classic, although I think toasty warm soft-pretzel bites would be heavenly

Veggies – Especially roasted or boiled new potatoes or fingerlings.  And there's always the tater tot

How to Throw A Mustard Tasting Party (Because Yes, You Really Should Have One) - Who knew so many people love mustard. And really, who doesn't love a party?

Bubbles and Booze

For washing it all down, one can never go wrong with wine.  Although there's nothing wrong with coolers filled with different types of German beer or, better still, friends who brew their own(!)

(My completely uneducated vote?  Sparkling wine.  Because bubbles go with everything)

 

Provide a Palate Cleanser

Having everyone effectively rinse out their mouths between samples lets them to fully taste each type of mustard.  Some great ideas for palate cleansers: bread, crackers, slices of apple.  Always with water

How to Throw A Mustard Tasting Party (Because Yes, You Really Should Have One) - Who knew so many people love mustard. And really, who doesn't love a party?

 

A Little Structure Isn't a Bad Thing

Lucky for us, one of our guests had been to lots of different tastings at the university.  She served as a guide and offered a bit of direction by having everybody taste the first sample at the same time

She taught us to first speak of the smell, then the taste, and not to forget about the texture.  These three will define the experience

Another tip from the tasting pro?

When we don't necessarily have a language that is (in this case) mustard only .. borrow from wine.  We can borrow all of the senses in terms of smell and taste to really explain it.  For example, mustard is similar to white wine in that it has a long flavor progression.  Mustard starts off a bit salty and then gets a little hotter and a little hotter until it builds

Don't forget to ask everyone to jot down their thoughts so you can refine your recipe and process for the next batches

 

Whatever Should I Wear?

If you're someone who spills things on your clothes all of the time (me!) .. know that mustard can be really, really hard to wash out.  A few tips for fighting stains?

It was decided to perhaps, be a more careful eater.  Or wear your favorite mustard colored shirt

 

Have you ever been to a tasting (mustard or otherwise)?  I’d love to hear your tips!

 

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39 Comments

  • Reply Julie Plagens May 23, 2018 at 8:41 am

    This actually sounds fun. I wasn’t in until you said you had all different foods you added with the mustards. You pulled off a pretty cool party. Kudos.

  • Reply Anne May 23, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Never thought of throwing a mustard themed party, how unique and interesting! Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  • Reply Elizabeth O May 23, 2018 at 10:42 am

    I adore the idea of a mustard tasting party, what a fun idea this is. I am in awe of the fact you make all the mustards from scratch too, you are very creative and the party sounds really fun.

  • Reply Robert Hoffman May 23, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Ok you had me at Guinness and horseradish! Which variety featured those tastes? I’d love to try a sampling. That used to be the best part of visiting a Hickory Farms store, but your way sounds even better.

  • Reply Emma May 23, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    I had never heard of a mustard tasting party. But there are chocolate and wine tasting so why not! And there is such a huge variety of mustard! Such a fun idea!

  • Reply Brandy May 23, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    I never heard of throwing a mustard tasting party before. This is really interesting and now I really want to host my own mustard party!

  • Reply Sigrid May 23, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    Honestly, I am not really into mustard so honestly, this idea never crossed my mind. hahaha But I do eat mustard as part of my hotdog sandwich. I also use it for the sauce on my baby back ribs. 😀

  • Reply Kate May 23, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    I’ve never heard of such a party! Not a huge mustard fan but I know quite a few people who do love it. That would be such an interesting idea.

  • Reply Natalie May 23, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    I love this idea! It would so much fun on a summer’s evening, in an outdoor space lit with pretty white lights.

  • Reply Jhilmil May 24, 2018 at 3:45 am

    Mustard experiments, really! I remember when my granny used to add mustard to the pickles, they gave a great taste to the pickles overall. I love mustard dips but somehow many veggies don’t go with mustard when I taste. But yes, I think I need to experiment with mustard.

  • Reply EscapeWriters May 24, 2018 at 4:28 am

    I bet there are very few who ever hosted a mustard party🎊 but its a really unique idea…such a new thought will love to oraganize such party at home.

  • Reply brandon hudson May 24, 2018 at 8:37 am

    This is absolutely fantastic I am definitely going for this for husband’s 30th birthday. He’s the biggest fan of mustard that I’ve ever met. Thanks for the great idea!

  • Reply Rachel May 24, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    This is such a cool way to have a tasting party! My friend and I recently moved in together for our last year in college, and maybe we can incorporate your ideas to throw a tasting party for different dishes as well!

  • Reply Catvills May 25, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Never heard of a mustard tasting party until now. Well, actually, I never knew about different kinds of mustard other than the processed ones I can get from the store. I would love to be invited to a party like this!

  • Reply Ana Ojha May 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    I’ve never heard of mustard tasting party before but it sounds so much fun! Mustard is one of the important staples of our Indian cuisine. From mustard cooking oil to mustard sauce to mustard curry, a majority of our recipes can’t be cooked without it! And totally agree with you regarding that mustard stain…its gross!

  • Reply Denni May 26, 2018 at 10:59 am

    I didn’t know that mustard tasting is a thing 🙈 living under a rock these days 😎 I love mustard and always have 4-5 different kinds at home. My fav is one with pineapple and honey

  • Reply Ivan May 27, 2018 at 9:05 am

    So many things you can do with mustard. I thought it was just a condiment for sandwiches.

  • Reply Christopher Mitchell May 27, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    You know what, I’m so into this idea! I love a good mustard, and it’s great because there’s such a variety!

  • Reply Nayna Kanabar May 27, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    My mom hosts wine tasting parties, and they’re the funest thing! It’s almost like a potluck, but even better. She makes some appetizers, and everybody brings their favorite bottle of wine. She never has to worry about which wine pairs with which food and when everybody brings their favorite, a lively and interesting conversation topic is built right in. I’m thinking the concept would be great fun with mustard! xx

  • Reply Mel May 28, 2018 at 3:02 am

    Lentils with a mustard sauce. I use this recipe as a base but omit the fennel and bacon.

    Pretzels are always fun of course. You could also have some nice rye bread.

    Eggs. Deviled eggs should include mustard.

    If you have Around My French Table, the mustard tart in that book is sensational. Oh! Found the recipe online

    Some kind of bean dish with a mustard-based jerk hot sauce.

    [I love mustards!]

  • Reply Lindsey May 28, 2018 at 4:12 am

    I am a major mustard lover. For me French mustard in mash potatoes is just sheer heaven and I would happily sit there and scoff the lot, straight out the pot.

  • Reply Tammy May 28, 2018 at 9:16 am

    I’m loving this idea! I wonder if you could have multiple pots of cheese fondue with different mustards and cheese varieties thrown in to highlight the different pairings? Maybe some roasted veggies that pair well with the cheeses would be a hit with the vegetarians?

  • Reply Carol Cassara May 28, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    A few years ago my husband and I went to France. One afternoon we stopped at the most beautiful shop that had mustard for sampling and buying, plus other mustard-themed items. You pumped your sample from a spigot on the counter and licked it from a paper spoon or spread a little on a mini-breadstick. So much fun!

  • Reply GiGi Eats May 29, 2018 at 11:42 am

    I soooo want to be invited to this party – I FRIGGIN’ LOVE MUSTARD!!!!!

  • Reply Esther Irish May 29, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Oh I love mustard. When I was little, my mom made me the best mustard sandwiches (on white, of course!) This looks like so much fun.

  • Reply Katie May 29, 2018 at 11:43 am

    I love mustards! I have a friend who got to be a contestant on one of the chef competition shows and she makes mustards during the holidays. I order about 5 different kinds and should really have my own mustard tasting party at home, lol.

  • Reply Jeanette May 29, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    You sure are a very adventurous taster! I have never even thought about trying to make mustard. I had no idea there could be so many variations! It looks like it would be wonderful to do, just for fun of it

  • Reply Ashley May 29, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Have you ever thought about serving onion rings or bite-sized squares of a grilled cheese sandwich? They’re my favorite things to pair with spicy mustard. Yum!

  • Reply Melanie May 29, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    I’m such a foodie so my friends wouldn’t be surprised if I did throw a mustard tasting party. It sounds like an interesting idea and a new one on me too.

  • Reply Trina May 29, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    This is such a unique idea. My son and husband both LOVE mustard, especially on corn dogs!

  • Reply Flyingkids May 30, 2018 at 7:04 am

    What a fun and unique idea. Mustard makes eating more fun. Can’t imagine hotdogs without mustard.

  • Reply Heather May 30, 2018 at 7:05 am

    What a creative party idea. This would be so much fun in the summer and a great way to teach your friends about a topic they probably (like me!) don’t know much about.

  • Reply Kathy May 30, 2018 at 8:41 am

    This sounds like a lot of fun. I’m not a huge fan of mustard, but I still do like it. I think it’s great they have so many foods you can try like this.

  • Reply Rachel May 30, 2018 at 11:43 am

    This is a very interesting idea. I always thought I didn’t like mustarbd but the more I try the more I like different ones.

  • Reply Marysa May 30, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    This would be such a fun idea, and something different to do. I love mustard, and it would be cute to try some different ways to serve it. I feel like we are stuck in a rut when it comes to entertaining.

  • Reply mj May 30, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    I wanted to say that I LOVE your blog. I too enjoy cooking and your blog makes me deliciously happy. I look forward to reading more. 🙂

  • Reply Sara Welch May 31, 2018 at 12:00 am

    That actually sounds like a lit of fun. I have a lot of friends who would come over and do this with me!

  • Reply Heather May 31, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    I’m a huge mustard lover. I would totally put something like this together for my friends!

  • Reply Jane June 11, 2018 at 3:51 am

    LOVE your blog! Just happened to find it in a search for the best pancake recipe with greek yogurt, and now I’m thinking about hosting a mustard tasting party too! 🙂 Keep up the awesome work!

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