Thursday, September 8, 2011
Chez Pim Artisan Jams: Taking Fruit to the Next Level
Pim Techamuanvivit started food blogging around ten years ago, which makes her one of the first. Besides writing about food, Pim holds cooking classes and sells artisan jams made from sustainable Northern Californian ingredients. After she recently tweeted @chezpim about her artisan jams and marmalade for sale on Etsy, I decided to try some for myself.
I ordered three flavors from her 2011 summer collection, with her descriptions and my reactions below:
"Berry Figgy Jam: This jam is indeed berry, berry figgy. It's a blend of olallieberries, raspberries, and my own Desert King figs. Olallieberries, pronounced oh-la-lie berries (or oh-la-la berries if you're saying it quickly), are very special Northern California treats. It's a hybrid of blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries. The flavor is quite similar to blackberries, but brighter and a lot more delicious!"
I found this jam an extremely yummy concoction, pleasing to the eye and palate. Purply-red goodness, with chunks of flavorful berries and little seeds. I couldn't taste the fig at first but then its flavor emerged as the aftertaste (and its little seeds to nibble on). What an interesting combination, with berry as the top note and the fig revealing itself later as the lingering base note. Hmm, fruit jams designed like perfume? Makes sense (pun intended).
"Clementine-Ginger Marmalade: Made from delicious Corsican clementine from Gene Lester's farm in Watsonville, this tangy sweet marmalade got a little lift from julienne of young ginger."
This one took me longer to figure out, like a puzzle to unravel. Its consistency was quite thick, almost viscous like honey but not as sticky. The flavor came through more subtly and less spicily than I'd imagined. The chewy clementine rind had a sharp, bitter citrusy taste, with hints of ginger. I would have preferred more of a ginger kick, perhaps with small bits of candied ginger. Instead of tangy-sweet, I would have liked it tangy-spicy. It does give me the idea of adding some candied clementine peel to a nice gingerbread or ginger cake recipe...that could be divine. Also it started to grow on me over time, especially when I slathered it on a bite of butterscotch sugar cookie from Butterscotch-on-the Go. Yum.
"Strawberry Rose: This is a whole berry conserve or compote. Big, juicy, whole strawberries preserved in their own syrup, infused with rose geraniums. That is all."
I actually didn't get what I ordered but in no way, shape or form can I complain, because the strawberry jam I got instead was the best I've ever had. I was surprised by how sweetly delicious it was. Spooned into Greek yogurt, this fruity puree tasted like sweet summer in a spoon, a velvety version of strawberries and cream, an improvement on the original fruit with its full flavor shining through with the additions of sugar, lemon juice, and TLC. If strawberries could only taste this way all the time I'd be a very happy camper but for now I will carefully guard my precious jar while it lasts.
Bottom line: Chez Pim artisan jams are pricey, exquisite, and worth it for a splurge. Total cost was $54 for three jars including shipping. My favorite way to eat them is swirled into Greek yogurt or slathered on buttered toast. The textures are entirely different than the usual jelled consistency of store-bought jams. These are fresher, more natural, tasting of intense, pure fruit essence and goodness. Eating these concoctions elevates an ordinary breakfast. The wonderful flavors demand the taste buds to wake up and pay attention. Delicious. That is all.