Raised in Australia by Greek-Italian parents, Harry Lalousis has always had a passion for good, hearty food. Maille appointed Harry to become a mustard sommelier, the profession which La Maison Maille has had in their boutiques since 1747, training at Maille’s boutique in London, UK. Through this extensive training, Harry has amassed a wealth of knowledge on the process of growing mustard seeds, the production of mustard, mustard flavour profiles, food trends and more. Each month, Harry will share his tips for cooking with mustard on Maille.ca.
With the popularity of Maille mustards in Canada, it’s easy to forget that the brand’s history is in fact based on its vinegars. The founder, Antoine-Claude Maille, discovered the amazing health benefits of vinegar back in 1720 and was quickly known as a distiller and vinegar-maker. His popularity rose when he introduced a vinegar to save the Marseillais from the ravages of the plague. His instruction was to swallow a teaspoon in a glass of water and to rub the precious elixir on their temples and palms to prevent infections and to treat fever, croup, and even poison ivy to only name a few. Antoine-Claude Maille and his son became the official suppliers of many royals in Paris and throughout Europe and by 1804, they had 50 flavours of vinegars in their repertoire.
Vinegar (which comes from the French “vin aigre,” or “sour wine”), is created from fermented alcohol, which is most commonly wine but is sometimes beer or cider, or is based on grains (like rice) or fruit (like apples). Using similar processes and the same craftsmanship as Antoine-Claude Maille did back in the 1800s, La Maison Maille applies a high level of care to its vinegars. Only high quality wines are selected to be transformed and red wine vinegars are aged in oak barrels for a minimum of one year before being bottled. The wood performs a similar role in vinegar-making as it does in the ageing of wines, infusing rich flavours to the product.
Though vinegar remains popular around the globe for pickling fruits and vegetables, and is commonly considered a functional food adding interest to condiments and other food dishes for flavour, vinegar is also known for its significant health benefits. Its health benefits include antibacterial activity, blood pressure reduction, antioxidant activity, anti-diabetic effects and prevention of cardiovascular disease, not to mention those who consume vinegar daily, report weight loss ¹. Vinegar is versatile in its uses and can easily become a staple in your home. Adding a splash of vinegar in your cooking will help brighten the flavours of almost any dish. But don't limit yourself to one variety. Like wine, vinegars each have distinct personalities from mildly sour rice wine vinegar to boldly sweet Italian balsamic.
The versatility of a balsamic vinegar will be just what you needed in a variety of your dishes! In its fruity, floral accompaniment, it is perfect for using when roasting veggies, soaking up the flavour nicely and offering a fresh, acidic but delicious taste. Try it in a marinade, brushed over chicken or fish or drizzled over freshly cut tomatoes. Maille’s signature Balsamic from Modena’s caramel aroma is also amazing on an avocado toast in the morning. Even better, drizzle it on ice cream (vanilla, chocolate and sour cherry are my favourites) and you’ll never use chocolate sauce on ice cream again!
White wine vinegar is often used by French cooks in sauces, vinaigrettes, soups and stews. The discreet tangy nature of white wine vinegar works wonders in salad dressings and as a base for homemade fruit or herb vinegars. With just the right burst of bitter, Maille’s White Wine Vinegar is great on a grilled chicken salad, or a simple mango salad. Maille tip: white wine vinegar is great for deglazing a pan and making a tasty sauce after sautéing chicken or fish.
Red wine vinegar’s distinct taste is best for a French-style mustard-based vinaigrette but also delicious as a refreshing twist in marinades and sauces. Aged for months in wooden barrels, this special vinegar has pronounced tangy, rounded notes and is also the perfect addition to include in a fudge brownie or drizzled over vanilla ice cream. Try it out in cilantro-studded guacamole or as a finish to braise short ribs- it’s tang will be just what you were looking for to brighten up your dish!
Apple cider vinegar is the perfect dash of culinary creativity for bean salads, whole grains, roasted squash, lentil soups, slaws and slow-braised pork. Through Maille’s crafty combination of sparkling cider and sweet honey notes, the apple flavour brings out vibrant savours and adds a splash of fruity sweetness to nicely complement meats, veggies and uphold cabbages. And for vegans, apple cider vinegar is a great replacement for egg whites in the preparation of vegan pastries.
So as the colder months are fast approaching, take out your slow cookers and come home after a long day to cuddle up with your favourite comfort food. Warm your mind, body, soul (and taste buds!) and enjoy a few of our favourite comfort foods featuring Maille vinegars.
1. FROM Journal of Food Science