What is it with wd~50 pastry chefs jumping ship and landing in the strangest ports? Last year then-pastry chef Alex Stupak decided to give up desserts to focus on regional Mexican cuisine, resulting in the awesomeness that is Empellón. Next we hear that Sam Mason—pastry chef at wd~50 right before Stupak took over the reins—in addition to his stint on Dinner With the Band and running his restaurant Tailor on Broome Street, now has his own line of... mayonnaise?
We first talked about it when it was released this past spring, and up to now, Empire Mayonnaise has only been available at Brooklyn Flea or for mail order through their website, but here's good news for all those who love slathering delicious creamy goop on their bread or dipping vegetables into anything rich and chervil-scented: Empire Mayo is opening a storefront on November 1st on the corner of Vanderbilt and Bergen (of course it's in Brooklyn).
We've tasted a bit of their mayo at Brooklyn Flea, but we got our hands on a few jars of the stuff in the office to see what good-but-odd things could come when you combine local eggs with Mason's semi-whacked out culinary sensibilities and the retro stylings of designer Elizabeth Valleau. There are dozens of flavors available and new ones come around each week. Of the ones we tasted, our favorite was the lime pickle mayonnaise, flavored with spicy-salty Indian-style lime pickle with just a hint of bitterness. Rich but not heavy, it's the kind of thing I could imaging dipping some fried chicken into.
Fermented black bean was another favorite, with the pungent, savory aroma of soy beans. It'd make a really good slather for a juicy roast pork sandwich. Vadouvan spice-scented mayo was also great, with sweet onion-y aromas and plenty of warm spice. In fact, the only one we weren't crazy about was the coffee flavor. I mean, the flavor was there—the coffee was intense and aromatic—but I can't imagine anything that'd be improved by the flavor of coffee mayonnaise.
But three out of four ain't bad, and luckily, you get over 20 more to choose from. If you're near the Brooklyn Flea, it's worth picking up a few jars and experimenting, or just wait until November 1st and pick up a jar off the shelf. They'll also be filling out orders for custom and limited-edition flavors. Just dying for a pot of foie gras mayonnaise for that party you're throwing? No problem. Give'em a call 48 hours in advance, and it's yours.
As a hardcore mayo lover, I'm a bit giddy at the thought. I mean, it's a whole store devoted to mayonnaise. Ah, Brooklyn.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.