We have hosted several tasting sessions for friends and other select guests in the last few weeks which have been a lot of fun. The basic premise is creating taste pairings of preserves and something else which compliments the flavors and takes each component to a new level. We have enjoyed 8 and 9 course tastings that have been a lot of fun
I have made more than 15 different types of jam this year and rarely eat breakfast – when I do; it is even rarer that I eat toast and jam. Much of my jam will be used for pairings such as these, often as an appetizer or with dinner.
The most recent tasting was with Not Far From the Tree (the same evening we made preserves together. I asked them to bring some cheeses and we progressed through a series of preserves that was a play on an average day of eating – breakfast, lunch and dinner. I know I’m missing some of the courses we served below but this list will give you an idea of how one can progress through a tasting.
Breakfast started with a piece of toast and preserved strawberries. The whole strawberries are very different from jam and I thought I was being a little cheeky NOT serving jam with toast. The berries are flavored bright with the summers sun and finish with a twist of lemon which makes your tongue slightly twinge.
Blueberry jam was a natural progression. We paired this years amazing version (wild blueberries, sugar, lemon and maple syrup) with a soft chevre and served on a butter cracker. I suppose this was brunch – a subtle transition from more to noon. It is an intoxicating combination.
The same blueberry jam took a decided turn towards lunch as we served a second version with Beemster cheese. Beemster is fantastic with aged balsamic and the loose syrup of this years blueberry served the same function. It’s a messy bite that is simply delightful.
Lunch was next – an old cheddar matched to a hearty cracker and paired with the one pickled item very few seem to recognize – pickled garlic scape (that’s the green “shoot” that grows from garlic during mid summer and before the bulb is harvested). These were pickled with lots of mustard and a high-acid vinegar which resulted in a meaty sweet taste of the harvest.
Dinner came with a kick. This is one of my all-time favorite pairings – soft brie (warmed to room temperature) with a cracked and raspberry-jalapeno jam. The buttery cheese fills our stomach while the bite of the hot pepper brings a robust dinner-feel to it. This years raspberry-jalapeno jam featured two types of berries (red and golden raspberries) and combined honey and sugar to finish.
Not too many pickled things at this tasting – most of our pickles need a few more weeks to be worthy of their full splendor so this was mostly a sweet and savory pairing.
The final course was desert – but that’s a bigger description than is fit for this little post – so turn in tomorrow to see what was next!