The Austin Chronicle

Doing What We Mustard

By Wayne Alan Brenner, May 7, 2012, 1:44pm, On the Range

You wouldn’t think there'd be so many different kinds of mustard in the world.

Unless you’d already learned: Whatever there is in this world, there are often so many different kinds of it.

You wouldn’t think, either, that Graham Reynolds, a man whose head is usually filled with music & whose time is so packed with projects involving the architecture of notes and the arrangement of instruments playing those notes, would know the first thing about mustard. Unless you’d already asked him about other seemingly random subjects over the years and had come to understand that, damn, there’s a lot of seemingly random subjects that the longhaired maestro’s intentionally schooled himself on, to near-expert depth.

I’m not sure if Reynolds was already autodidacted into such knowledge of coffee, for instance, when he (and about 100 other people) attended the party that my ex-wife and I threw out in Bastrop years ago:
The party that featured tastings of Kopi Luwak, the legendary weasel-shit coffee.
But that event was a success, and so my ex and I had tentatively planned another party.
This time, we figured, we’d serve nothing but those gigantic Dutch pretzels
and a variety of mustards.

Oh, hell yes.

But we put it off, and we put it off,
and then we got divorced.

But so last year, almost a decade down the road, as I was standing at the bar of the Tigress on North Loop, standing there with Reynolds and Hank Cathey and Ron Berry and several other creative types, standing there in a group gathered to discuss possible food-track events for Fusebox Festival, I said to Hank Cathey, “Okay, here’s a thing.” And I told him about the unfulfilled Mustard Party idea.

Reynolds, standing next to Cathey, set down his cocktail.
“That’s an excellent idea,” he said. “Did you know that …”

And he talked about having recently studied the history of mustard;
and how he already had a bunch of different mustards at home;
and he told us of the National Mustard Museum in Wisconsin, and –

Basically: Whoa. Dude.

And Cathey was interested, and the three of us gabbed about possible permutations of mustard-tasting events, and the whole thing sounded like a hella cool thing Fusebox could do. And maybe next year or in 2014 they will; but nothing came of it in time for this year’s Fusebox just passed.


Graham Reynolds, much busier than most people who like to think they’re busy, nevertheless isn’t one to let a good idea just sit around gathering dust. Especially if that idea involves food – and double especially if it’s food of a vegan persuasion. So, never mind the Fusebox, Reynolds fomented up an Austin Mustard Club that included Cathey & me & a few other people, and into which Reynolds invited his friend Jessica Agneessens of Whole Foods Market. And Jessica struck up a relationship with the Mustard Museum folks. And eventually, several months ticked off the calendar, we all convened at the beautiful Eastside home of David Quin.

There were so many different kinds of mustard there!

To be precise? Thirty-three kinds of mustard. Thirty-three kinds of mustard upon a table generously set with platters of vegetables & crackers & bread & cheese & sausages. And we tasted these mustards and spoke of their flavors, the intensity of their heat, their mouthfeel and so on, as people came & went throughout the afternoon. And near the end of this chatty, convivial gathering, Reynolds took a survey of our mustard-responses, to reckon which ones were (according to our judgment) the best.

(When I say “our,” I mean those people who were there for the whole thing & who tasted all the mustards: Graham Reynolds, Shawn Sides, Jessica Agneessens, David Quin, Kristy Hamrick, Utah Hamrick, Buzz Moran, and me.)

And here are the results of the survey,
that Reynolds divided into Gold and Silver winners:

The Gold Winners:
1) tie between L. Keller Black Truffle Dijon and Silver Spring Beer & Brat
2) Colman’s
3) Obester Garlic
4) Lowensenf Extra

The Silver Winners:
1) Moutarde Royale Cognac
2) tie between Boetje’s Stone Ground and Henry Weinhard’s Dark Pub Beer
3) tie between Bucky Badger Horseradish and Laredo’s Jalapeño Smokin’ Gun
4) Robert Rothschild Tarragon Peppercorn

May these inspire you to a few condimentary adventures of your own, dear reader,
as another spring staggers into the burning house of summer …

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