Mayonnaise is the last thing one expects to discuss on the tony island of Palm Beach with the daughter of a Spanish count and countess. Ditto for ketchup, that oft disrespected condiment.
But mayo and ketchup are downright intriguing topics when described by Victory Amory, a former Palm Beacher who has built a successful culinary enterprise that includes books, a blog, signature food products and a new line of bottled condiments.
This mayo we are discussing is no ordinary condiment. It’s a silky spread infused with parsley, dill and tarragon, and poured into handsomely labeled 10-ounce jars for a weeknight foodie’s ease and aesthetic. This spread, Amory’s Fine Herb Mayonnaise, was selected top condiment and one of the top five foods at the trendsetting Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, where more than 80,000 food and drink items were showcased last month.
This is more than a condiment – this mayo, as are the other eight bottled sauces in Amory’s new line – is a reflection of her philosophy on cooking and entertaining: Add a little panache to the everyday.
It doesn’t require much effort to take a meal from ordinary to inspired, says the culinary entrepreneur.
“I wanted to create a product that was an everyday product, but that would elevate the everyday,” Amory said in an interview last week during a promotional visit to Palm Beach.
She turned to her Madrid roots for inspiration on the flavor profiles that accent the new line. This is evident in the smoky depths of the Smoky BBQ Ketchup sauce she flavored with pimenton (Spanish paprika). It’s echoed in the Sherry Ketchup she spiked with Spanish Jerez sherry. It’s in the classic Catalan Almond & Garlic Romesco Sauce and the tangy Red Chili Piri Piri sauce.
“I wanted to bring the flavors of my Spanish background into these products because they are always with me,” says Amory, who sold her Palm Beach home a couple of years ago and now lives full-time in Greenwich, Conn., with her husband, Minot Amory, and their three sons, Minot, 26, Henry, 15, and William, 14.
From her Greenwich home, she logged more than 50,000 miles last year in her dark green Mini Cooper in her frequent travels to upstate New York to work on the product line, a process she describes as “rather complicated.”
She selected a small-batch producer for her preservative-free condiments, to help control the quality of the ingredients. The condiment line launched after the success of Amory’s line of frozen foods on the Home Shopping Network. She expects the new condiments – which are sold on her website, VictoriaAmory.com, as well as Food52.com’s Provisions section – to be available at select, high-end stores. The sauces, which are sold in three-packs on Amory’s site, retail for about $7 to $8 a jar.
This is not 3-buck mayo, but Amory believes the flavor combos in her sauces will transform drab meals into fabulous ones.
“This is about elevating the everyday,” she says, articulating the phrase that has become her mantra.
But elevating does not mean to make pretentious. Despite her aristocratic background, Amory is not one to create dishes that are overwrought or precious.
“My cooking is not fussy. But I believe in sauces. You can take a basic piece of chicken and add a nice sauce to it and it can be a fabulous dinner. I love adding a good sauce to very simply grilled vegetables or grilled shrimp,” she said.
In creating her bottled condiments, Amory says she kept in mind the way she prefers to cook, eat and entertain. A dash of her sherry-laced ketchup adds zing to meatloaf (”And it’s so simple,” she said). And a few tablespoons of her Champagne-spiked ketchup, shaken with fresh lemon juice, vodka and freshly ground black pepper, makes a mean “emergency Bloody Mary,” said Amory, who hopes to return to Palm Beach as a part-time resident at some point.
That is welcome news for those familiar with Amory’s impeccable entertaining skills.
“Her tables are beautiful. She’s got it down. She’s in the room, greeting her guests. She zips to the kitchen – does it all,” says Palm Beach interior designer Joseph Pubillones, who recalled one of Amory’s engaging dinner parties, the way she designed the guest seating to spark conversation and the way she saw to it that the meal was served with laser-sharp precision. “She’s the ultimate, gracious hostess and she does it all effortlessly.”
SHERRY KETCHUP MEATLOAF
This recipe comes courtesy of Victoria Amory, who writes: “This very easy-to-make meatloaf is juicy, flavorful and the perfect meal to feed a crowd. Sherry ketchup gives this meatloaf a wonderful depth of flavor and that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that differentiates everyday with extraordinary. I, of course, love meatloaf served with fluffy and creamy mashed potatoes, but really any kind would do!”
- Serves 4 to 6
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 6 slices whole wheat bread, cubed
- 3 cups Victoria Amory Sherry Ketchup, divided
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pound ground beef chuck or round
- 1 pound ground veal
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground turkey
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 pound bacon
In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and garlic and saute until soft. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the bread, 2 cups of the Sherry Ketchup and the milk. Stir to combine well or until the bread has absorbed the liquids. Add the parsley, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, meats, onion mixture and season with salt and pepper. Using your hands (take off your rings) mix until well combined. In an oven-to-table dish, shape the mixture to resemble a large loaf or split it into 2 smaller ones.
Arrange the bacon slices on a diagonal to cover the loaf, tucking in the ends of the bacon under the meat. Spread 1 cup of the Sherry Ketchup on top. Bake for 1 hour. Drain some of the fat/liquid from the pan and bake 30 minutes more. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing into 1 1/2 inch thick slices and serve hot.