Supermarket Aisle King #002: Berkshire Berrie's Tomato Jam
Have you ever tried vegan cream cheese? It’s not better than the real thing, but Kite Hill’s version with the everything seasoning is pretty good to the extent that it makes me wonder how they (the royal) get almonds to act like all of these things they are not. I never gave it much thought before right now, but almonds are kind of the ultimate performer. Like, truly master entertainers.
Here they put on this transformational show, spreading like cheese upon contact with bread, melting like butter when met by heat, liquefying as if stocks owned by a market skeptic and straining like yogurt in a cereal bowl when in reality, they -- the almonds -- are constitutionally, fundamentally, honestly and fearlessly nothing more
They’re fucking nuts!
And selfless ones at that -- changing to make the intolerant among us feel comfortable in the presence of cow turd and lest I forget the grinders they meet to powder gluten aversions to agreeable flour. That’s character.
I’ve never had beef bacon before, but recently I bought a small jar of tomato jam from the Farmer’s Market in Union Square. It seems like it would be really good with beef bacon. I was there last Saturday looking for this smoked fish dip that my friend Roxana has been raving about and--actually, you know what? The real reason I went to the farmer’s market is that when I got dressed last Saturday, I found myself cloaked in ribbed long johns that were tucked into a pair of plaid socks, with an open hem turtleneck sweater over my top half and shearling-lined clogs on my feet. Given what I was wearing, it was either the farmer’s market 72 blocks south of my neighborhood where tobacco suede loafers are worn like they’re clogs or a two-hour drive upstate to antique (as in, the verb).
So you see, really, the activity chose me and thus it went
If you enter the market at Union Square West on 17th street, Berkshire Berrie’s is among the first of the booths that will greet you. His stand brims with jams that call out distinctly, “Take a risk, it won’t kill you!”
Unless that is, you’re allergic to garlic, in which case the risk might kill you. Among the most compelling pairings on his table are oregano garlic jam, garlic raspberry jelly, horseradish jelly and the aforementioned tomato preserves.
It’s not called a preserve de facto but what is the difference, really, between a jam and a preserve?
I guess this is the kind of thing I could google, so hold please, let me look into it.
A ha, there you (I?) have it -- mashed vs. whole: a tale of modern life.
The toss-up for me was between garlic raspberry jelly and tomato jam. I wanted both but only got one because my new thing is taking a light touch swing into the cleavage of what is unknown instead of blowing the sum of my whole, I’m sorry, I mean instead of exploding my PRESERVES into the entirety of the ~parts unknown~ while it’s all still too obscure.
Catch my drift? Wear my socks? Eat my jam?
I selected tomato because it’s the first one that caught my attention. I did it to honor the purity of unbridled curiosity, perhaps even compel myself to trust that my gut could be right when it signals that I should explore something.
So I got the jam.
I took it to a restaurant.
I ordered eggs.
I lathered the jam onto said eggs and said to myself, self: your gut was right.
Then I mixed a small amount into a bowl of sauteed spinach. That was good too.
+2 for the leaky gut.
By the time I got home 1.1 hours later, I had 6 ideas of how to eat the jam. FIRST, I’d spread it onto these banana muffins that I make with almond flour (see how this comes full circle). THEN! I’d make myself a tasting plate full of 5 teeny tiny oven-baked toast slices.
Three were good enough, one was exceptional and to be honest, I would discourage you from pairing the jam with the 5th test spread: orange saffron aioli. It was kind of like putting two main events -- the stars of two dif shows -- on the same stage and asking them to share the limelight. Neither knew what to do. How to be with the other. Which just left the audience confused about what they were viewing, or in my case, eating.
Taramasalata was the low-key star of the sampling, I think because it’s so fucking salty and the betrothal to that sweet tomato is like honey to whisky, ribbed tank to ball gown, Abie to me. You know?
I roasted some salmon on Thursday night. Laura left some of hers behind, which I ate because most of my diet consists of toddler scraps these days. I spread on some jam. It rocked. Had it on fried plantains, even a brussel sprout (just one, steamed). I dipped a celery stick into the jar while I was writing this. Not bad! Proposed a collaboration between the jam and a burger but no pairing satisfied me so much as the one that landed itself on a stale rosemary cracker from a box that I bought right before New Years Eve last December. I refuse to throw it away because it was $9 and crackers are basically stale bread anyway.
Bought this plate on Instagram
But then again, who the fuck knows anything? Such is life, and life is rich.
Welcome to a new series called Supermarket Aisle King.
The key players on said cracker were the jam and everything cream cheese. Kite Hill, to be sure, which is how we first got here, in case that’s unclear, but to tie this up in the bow it deserves let me just say, how many commas are too many commas and ugh, WHAT A PERFORMANCE.
Good day, God bless you, good riddance, good nut.