Monday, February 8, 2010

Coveted Condiments

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Sue (now Susan but that’s another story) picked me up in her car. She had come in from Connecticut and we were headed to a reception for a high school teacher who was retiring. All I can say is times have changed since high school. Quickly our conversation turned to cooking and I was entering “Sunny Spain” a lemony spice mixture in my blackberry. I assure you as the night progressed we talked about slightly cooler topics. And then yesterday, I was scanning my Facebook updates and saw this from my friend Nelson’s brother “Sriracha hot sauce on a grilled cheese sandwich! Life-altering experience. How come nobody told me about this?” Maybe it’s our age, that it has been a while since high school, and what we are “consuming” has changed. That reasoning is a little depressing so I’ll go with the argument that condiments just make food more interesting.

Coveted Condiments:
1. Shiracha hot sauce- this hot sauce has almost a cult following. In preparation for this post I requested a chosen condiment from a few cooking pals and received multiple Shiracha replies. Shriacha is a delicious, not super hot, hot sauce. I am testing recipes for homemade Shiracha but for now use the bottle with the rooster on it. Combine it with Greek yogurt for a creamy variation (my secret ingredient on fish tacos).
2. Sunny Spain my friend Sue is the human equivalent of Google. No computer required, Sue will answer your questions. Well this is Sue’s condiment selection. It’s salt free, delicious and great on roasted chicken.
3. Penzeys Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon as long as we were talking Penzeys (who have a location in Grand Central market) I had to mention this cinnamon. It’s insanely good. My boys love it on applesauce and French toast. I love it on oatmeal.
4. Bernard Michaud’s Thousand Flowers Honey  I received this honey as a gift from a foodie client. Prior to tasting this, I wasn’t much of a honey person but was quickly converted. I now use this in smoothies, tea and marinades. It’s also an excellent gift as it comes in a beautiful red tin pail.
5. Nicolas Alziari Olive Oil- though listed as #5 this is my #1, can’t live without, makes everything better condiment. This olive oil is from Nice and has a unique taste. I combine it with lemon juice and kosher salt for salad dressing and its heaven every time. In NYC, you can purchase it at Citarella Markets.
6. San Giacomo Balsamic Condiment- I didn’t make it up that’s that it’s called on the bottle. This isn’t just balsamic vinegar, this is love. This was another one of those “you have to call this number and order this vinegar” commands I take very seriously. I love this on strawberries…don’t question it until you try it.

Please chime in; what are your coveted condiments? Any interesting uses for them? How did you discover them? I found it funny that my mother (the best cook I know) replied to my request for her favorite condiment very simply “butter and olive oil.”


  1. Thanks, Lauren! I only have sriracha at home, now I'll get the rest! You should also try Maya Kaimal's spicy Indian ketchup. Gooood!

  2. I've always had an aversion to condiments. I hated the cloyingly sweet top-note, the chemically aftertaste, and the awful slimy texture. Then I realized that I just hate the most commonly used condiments like ketchup, mustard and most of all mayo. Once I broadened my definition of condiment, and when I learned to make some on my own, I've become more open-minded. Now, you'll have to fight me for my hot sauce and flavored vinegars. I keep a bottle of shiracha and one of green tabasco in my office, just ine case. I'm def. going to try the "balsamic condiment" you mentioned, too.

  3. I'm such a purist(though I do have Shiracha at home) - nothing is better than good old Tabasco sauce. On everything. Also a huge fan of Old Bay - also on everything. Spanish paprika (Pimenton de la Vera) - also yummy. (yeah, on everything).

  4. Oh Jen, you are so right about Old Bay! OB on popcorn is my favorite.

  5. Here's a great article the NY Times ran last year about the history behind the famous "rooster brand" sriracha:

  6. So yes, Sunny Spain is my go to spice blend... works really well on veggies, too. Condiments I adore? Tiger Sauce. I think it's the all time, most delicious not-too-hot sauce... it's a little sweet with a tiny kick. It even has a fan page on Facebook. Although now I'm obviously going to have to try sriracha sauce on grilled cheese.

    I wont comment on being a human google. :)

  7. I am taking the list with me to the store today! sriracha is one of my favorites. I am looking forward to trying the others ones on your list.