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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Friend In Cheeses Makes Jams and Preserves for Foodies Who Don't Like Rules

Posted By on Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 8:45 AM

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A Friend in Cheese stands on the extreme end of interesting in terms of the condiment combinations chosen for its jams and marmalades. As the Santa Cruz-based Tabitha Stroup says, she "doesn't like rules when it comes to food."

Tabitha started selling her home-made wine-and-cheese-pairing-specific preserves under the name Tabitha's Appropriate Jam's in 2009, and, after some early success, re-branded to company as Friend in Cheeses Jam Company. We found Tabatha at the Artisan Cheese Festival a while back, and, as she makes such a wide range of preserves, had her pick a few things for us to try.

The creativity level is high, I'm not sure I've ever seen carrot marmalade, and the flavors range from interesting to very good. If you're a wannabe cheese board stylist, these can up your tool kit. Otherwise, you'll have to pick and choose what you want to eat and with what.

Onion Jam

Dark and viscous, with a texture of chunky quince paste. Noses of ancient pickled garlic, which I love, and the flavors come through chutney-dense with notes of garlic and mincemeat spice. The caramelized onion character offers mixes with the sweetness of actual caramel. Perhaps a burger topper, on a nice thick layer of Point Reyes Original Blue, or with the blue on its own. Interesting, enjoyable, and something I would search for a place for.

Carrot Marmalade

Looks like wet shredded carrots, tastes like a cross between citrus rind marmalade and carrot slaw. Tartness and a note of pith combines with the carrots modest earthiness and less than languid sweetness for an interesting, though not particularly compelling, flavor. Would be an interesting visual presentation on a cheese board, but I won't be eating it for its own sake.

Pinot Cherries

Dark, lightly shrunken cherries in light juice. Nice tartness with the pinot delivering more a note of spice than of the wine. There's a modest heat that builds as you chew the cherry which leaves behind a warming finish an a feeling of pepper. Add these to mincemeat pie when the time comes for a artisan version of an old favorite, or use them on a cheese board alongside sharp cheddar or aged Manchego.

Jars are $8 each at retail or directly in their "Jams by Blimp" program (it's not really a blimp - they ship UPS). See their site for stores and ordering.

Contact Ben Narisin at sfoodieben@gmail.com . Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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Ben Narasin

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