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Heritage jam contest provided a glimpse into our rich culinary life
Jams, jellies and savories — all three varieties were well represented at the 2011 Strawberry Festival’s Heritage Jam Contest held at the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum Saturday, July 16th. The “Grand Jampion” would be anyone’s guess with so much to choose from.
As I toured this special Vashon exhibition of original folk culinary creativity, my senses were filled with powerful, rich and round smells and flavors. There was a wonderful Wild Plum Jelly and a blissful Bluebarb Tea Jam, a zesty Strawbard, a complex Wood-Fired Peach Preserve and one of my favorites, a divine Smoky Fig Jam.
Ultimately, Jo Ann Bardeen was pronounced Grand Jampion of the event and first place winner in the jelly category, with her delicate Rose Petal Jelly. The jelly was kissed with a pink blush and lustrous sheen, and I was enamored at once. On the nose it had a gentle and pleasing aroma, filled with a fresh ocean breeze and a soft and powdery perfume. It was light in body, youthful and lean, like a fine dessert wine. Paired with an artisan baked stoned wheat cracker and a local organic goat cheese would, in my opinion, make the perfect summer hors d’oeuvre.
Robin Swicord’s Clay-Roasted Apricot Preserves won first place in the jam category — and no wonder. It occurred to me that I had tasted the jammy flavor somewhere before. Yes, it reminded me of a Viognier I recently had, and like the wine, it too was precocious and poetic. It struck a balance between rich, earthy underscores and a satisfying, fortified finish with a hint of lemon freshness. I stood there wishing I could swirl it in a glass and drink it.
In the savory category, there was also quite an array, from Kick Ass Ketchup (and it did), to Rhubarb-Raspberry-Citrus Butter, but Solveig Peck took home the prize for her unbelievable, complex Chipotle/Red Pepper Savory; it possessed a toasty character reminiscent of a Malbec. Rich and round with a powerful and mature character, it seemed to be the perfect pairing for meats or pastas with hearty chunks of homemade bread.
It’s the creativity in our community that is showcased at the heritage museum’s event — a living, breathing, culinary movement that is world class, comparable to any of the more famous world cuisines. As the 21st century begins, fresh, local and organic ingredients prevail everywhere, and our area’s particular traditions are flourishing. The heritage museum is committed to displaying Island cookery and the great tastes that uphold the reputation of Puget Sound. There is even talk of a pickle challenge next year, alongside the Heritage Jam Contest. It occurs to me that the spicing of pickles is akin to the creation of wort for craft beers. Oh, the possibilities.
— Verna Everitt