“Taste to Go” entries feature foodstuffs from my favourite purveyors and products of interest.

This past weekend, I had one of those leisurely Sundays – the type where if someone asked you what you did to spend each minute of every hour, you’d have no clue. All you know is that you had a lovely day. Graciously invited out by the ladies of S’s family, we headed to the always picturesque town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, for a “Girl’s Day.”

For those not familiar with the area, Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) is a small town located at the juncture of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, across the Canada/U.S. border from Youngstown, N.Y.

Historically the town has figured heavily in the founding of Canada. A freshly-named Niagara was the capital of Upper Canada in 1792, but due to concerns of proximity to the States the city soon lost the title to York (now Toronto).

The town was the backdrop for much of the drama of the War of 1812, with the nearby battle of Queenston Heights a definitive point in Canadian history. Niagara was burned to the ground during occupation by American forces, but the British rebuilt. The city adopted its present moniker of NOTL in the 1880s to clarify its distinction from Niagara Falls. Today the town maintains much of its historical charm, albeit with a sometimes overly-glossy veneer of a booming tourist industry.

Home to not only meticulously restored historic sites, NOTL is well placed in Niagara’s Wine Country and caters towards a diverse clientele. Gracious spa hotels do flex their influence, but quaint B&Bs abound, as do a variety of restaurants and speciality shops.

We enjoyed a sumptuous brunch at one of the larger hotels in the area; a meal that stretched out for hours as we gossiped and laughed over everything and anything. Is it not a wonderful thing to have the opportunity to get together for some fabulous food and frivolous conversation?

After the meal, we descended upon the bustling shops of Queen Street, the town’s centre. We had no specific plans, choosing instead to flit from shop to shop and stopping whenever something caught our eye. Such was the case with our visit to Greaves Jams and Marmalades. Established in 1927, Greaves Jams is a fixture in NOTL, offering up their luscious jams, jellies and chutneys.

They have expanded their selection to include some choice gourmet and local products, including Kozliks Canadian Mustard. Intrigued by the Balsamic, Figs and Dates variety, I happily added a bottle to my already groaning shopping bags.

Heading home I pondered the combination of mustard seed, balsamic and sweet fruit. As mentioned before I have a bit of a collection of mustards at home, finding it to be one of the most versatile of condiments – adding depth to sauces, emulsifying vinaigrettes and dressing up a summer’s hotdog with its iconic yellow lashing. With an established love for Dijon, fiery English-style, sweet-sour German and hearty whole grain, this new variety would have a happy home.

The Kozliks Balsamic, Fig and Dates has an assertive pungency upon opening the bottle. The piquancy of mustard seed is there, set off by the astringent tang of balsamic. Tasting the gorgeously thick brown sauce you first experience the high notes of vinegar, followed by a base of sweet fig. The label suggests use with game and pork, and I do believe it would be an excellent basis for a crust for pork tenderloin or duck. With its depth and spice though, I enjoy it paired with lamb (as pictured) and could see it as a flavoursome addition to North African dishes and tagines. Further experimentation is definitely warranted.

Anton Kozliks Canadian Mustards
www.mustardmaker.com

Greaves Jams and Marmalades
www.greavesjams.com

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