These shrimp wait happily in anticipation of a dip in LuLu’s
Saffron & Garlic Rouille.
A Touch of Provence
The nice thing about our global village is, as a foodie, you don’t have too many unanswered yearnings. As long as you have a credit or debit card, a network of specialty food merchants and Federal Express will deliver what you don’t have the time to personally pick up in le marché at Aix or Arles.
In the case of great Provençal condiments, one need not reach to Provence at all: they are being made in San Francisco by the specialty foods division of Restaurant Lulu, a Provençal restaurant in SoMa, the trendy downtown neighborhood SOuth of MArket Street.
The LuLu label debuted in 1997 and in just two years was named Outstanding Product Line at the Fancy Food Show (the most prestigious industry show for specialty foods)—two years in a row. LuLu’s line of mayonnaises and mustards is, in one word, céleste. Eight jars of heaven can be spread on sandwiches, enlisted as dips, used as bases for hors d’oeuvres, daubed as plate garnishes, and placed on standby to get you out of fixes galore.
Provence is known for its lavender, its olives and aïoli—a word that comes from Latin* and signifies a spread of mashed garlic cloves mixed with olive oil and egg yolks (i.e., garlic mayonnaise). The ingredients are simple but it’s difficult to make well, as home cooks know. That’s why LuLu’s superb Garlic Aïoli is a treasure.
||*alium (garlic) and oleum (oil)
In Provence, aïoli is an extremely popular condiment, sauce, and cooking ingredient, used instead of butter in many recipes. In the saffron-flavored fish soup bourride, aïoli is used to enrich the stock. As aïoli garni, it is used as a dipping sauce with a platter of vegetables, fish, shellfish, beef, and/or chicken—enjoyed on Christmas Eve and weekend gatherings. Aïoli Monstre, or Le Grande Aïoli, is a dish that combines eggs, fish, boiled meats, chicken, and chick peas. And, ubiquitously, aïoli is served as Americans serve catsup or steak sauce, to spice up almost anything.
Most Americans don’t encounter aïoli unless they’re in a Provençal restaurant or a bistro. All the more reason to race out for a jar of LuLu’s. Then:
- Make hors d’oeuvres of rare beef skewers and caperberries, or a first course of asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon or Serrano ham.
- “Go Provençal” and fry cod or cod cakes (or serve cod balls with toothpicks). You’ll be quite surprised by what aïoli does to a simple hard-boiled egg, sliced in half on a luncheon plate, or as an hors d’oeuvre with a roasted red pepper strip.
- Do as the French do and use aïoli on hot or or cold meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables— especially beets, cauliflower, carrots, steamed artichokes, and roasted potatoes.
- “Go American” and slather aïoli on fish or chicken prior to grilling.
- Like garlic bread? We make ours French-style, with aïoli on a baguette. This intensely savory condiment is a delight on anything it touches. (Remember to pour yourself a glass of rosé, like the locals.)
But Wait—There’s More
As Al Jolson was fond of saying, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” And he hadn’t even tasted LuLu’s Saffron & Garlic Rouille. With a golden saffron color and a vibrant flavor from the saffron, tomato, peppers, chili pepper flakes and garlic, this spicy mayonnaise almost brings tears to the eye with its beauty of flavor (we mean this sincerely).
- An essential ingredient in bouillabaisse, its other uses are limited only by imagination. We love it with seafood, burgers, and sandwiches; and find that it transforms anything it touches.
- In need of an hors d’oeuvre, we boiled new potatoes, scooped out the centers, filled them with Saffron & Garlic Rouille, and stuck a chive “flagpole” on top of each. Guests were in love.
We will never be without two jars again (the second for when we run out of the first).
Before leaving the mayonnaise group, we must mention the French Mayonnaise with Dijon Mustard, a beautiful child of two handsome parents. With a base of LuLu’s superb French Mayonnaise and coarse grains of mustard, it is a world away from anything one can create at home from a jar of commercial mayo and a jar of Dijon.
Moving on to Mustards
A couple of years ago, one of the “new flavors” that swept through the specialty foods block was harissa. What, you say?
Harissa is a highly seasoned condiment—chopped garlic, chiles, cumin, and caraway in a base of olive oil—that is used to flavor traditional North African soups, stews, and couscous. LuLu adapted the concept, creating a peppery mustard that’s rusty red from fire-roasted tomatoes, red peppers, beets, and carrots, plus the classic harissa spices.
We love the flavor on sandwiches and hors d’oeuvres, and use it as the North Africans do, to add a spicy kick to soups, sauces and dressings.
|Would you put plain mustard or mayo on a sandwich like this? It deserves something equally exciting, like LuLu’s Mustard with Harissa. Photo courtesy of the National Pork Board.
We know we’ve been talking about delicious food for quite some time, and you may be wanting to leave in search of a snack. We encourage you to check out all of LuLu’s mustards. Ask the Great Gift Giver to drop a complete set in your stocking this holiday season.
- Mustard with Parsley and Garlic is a treasure—so savory and layered with flavor that it begs the question, why aren’t there more mustards out there like this? Every shelf needs a jar.
- Mustard with Herbes de Provence is tinged with lavender, sage, and citrus flavors—floral, fresh, tangy, and perfect for grilled chicken, fish, vinaigrettes, and smoked fish.
- Mustard with Preserved Lemon & Garlic and Mustard with Olive Tapenade are two pungent, zesty spreads for those who like a flavorful bite. Mix some into tuna, egg, potato, or chicken salad, use in a vinaigrette, or as a rub for chicken or lamb (or as part of a marinade). Both have lots of garlic: the former is made with Meyer lemons, Dijon and whole grain mustard; the latter combines Dijon mustard and tapenade (olive paste, garlic, anchovies).
We can see how, in a sea of condiments, LuLu won top awards its first two years out. If it seems as if nine dollars for an eight-ounce jar of mustard or mayonnaise is pricey: c’est absurde. For the price of two quickly-forgotten lattes, you will have many spreads of excitement...and the memories that attend.
LULU GOURMET PRODUCTS
Gourmet Mayonnaises and Mustards
French Mayonnaise with Dijon
Mustard with Harissa
Mustard with Herbes de
Mustard with Preserved Lemon
Mustard with Olive Tapenade
- Each jar, 8 ounces
Shipping additional. Prices and flavor
availability are subject to change.
Purchase online at RestaurantLuLuGourmet.com.
Or, order by telephone at
Monday through Friday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST
For email assistance, contact:
These champions from Restaurant Lulu will add a profusion
of flavor to many things on your table.
|For a Provençal twist on artichokes, steam them and dip them
in LuLu’s heavenly Garlic Aïoli instead of melted butter or
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