Anna Wolf makes mustard, but relish is really what she’s doing right now.
In her first few weeks of launching her condiment business, My Friend’s Mustard, she’s already made distribution deals with a slew of area restaurants and shops, including the vaunted Marlow and Daughters on Broadway in Williamsburg.
When you get your product into a foodie institution like that, there’s no other way to say it: You’re really cutting the mustard.
“Her products are thought out really well,” said Andrew Dorsey, the Marlow and Daughters butcher who can’t wait to pair his kielbasa and bratwursts with Wolf’s grainy spread. “It’s got a great texture to it.”
Wolf hones her craft at a closet-sized kitchen in the back of a bar on Nassau Avenue in Greenpoint. Her space is small, but it complies with the city’s strict rules that require even small-scale food vendors to operate out of a commercial kitchen. She churns out several mustard batches at a time in two beer-based varieties: pickled jalapeño with Sixpoint Bengali Tiger and a spicy brown with Sixpoint Brownstone Ale.
“I grew up with plain, yellow mustard, but I grew to love darker, grainy mustard with a kick,” Wolf said.
Wolf’s mustard-making method is pretty old-school, as the time-consuming process dates back to ninth-century France. Making a batch takes about 10 days, from first soaking the mustard seeds to the jarring finale. But Wolf said that she doesn’t mind putting in all the effort.
“Better-quality mustard just takes longer to produce,” said Wolf, who quit a torturous job at an ad agency last year to become the queen of Kings mustard. “And I just loved playing around in the kitchen.”
Just loving “playing around” is pretty much how Wolf came up with her recipes for this condiment, made from the seeds of mustard plants, water, vinegar, various spices and the brews that Wolf, a self-described “beer nerd” decided to use.
Friends have offered encouragement — and money.
“She makes really great stuff.” said Jon Miller, a bar-owner who invested in My Friend’s Mustard (the name refers to a tasting party at which the host kept urging people to try “my friend’s mustard”).
How good is it? The Brooklyn Paper brought both of Wolf’s varieties into the test kitchen near our editor’s desk and put her condiment through the toughest test imaginable: standing up to the best pastrami in the borough, Noah Bermanoff’s smoked meat from Mile End on Hoyt Street.
A schmeer of the pickled jalapeño couldn’t hold its own, but the spicy brown perfectly complemented the pastrami. That blend has heat, smokiness and sweet, molasses-like undertones.
Even Bernamoff agreed with our supposedly unschooled palates.
“I definitely like the spicy brown better,” said Noah Bernamoff, the owner of Miles End. “The coarser texture works better. It tastes of cinnamon and cloves.”