(Originally published in The Grapevine on February 15th, 2015)
Our latest trip to the Wolfville Farmers’ Market involved only Clara and me, but she was more than up to the task of choosing from the wide array of goodies on offer at Farm Girl Preserves. FGP features pickles, relish, chutneys, and jams in expected and unexpected combinations. Clara was of the opinion that pushing the envelope was the best idea. She sampled a couple and settled on three jars of joy.
My parents came to visit last night and, as per usual, Clara was still eating. “Why on earth is the meat on her sandwich purple?” asked my mother. Clara said “it’s beet relish!” Chipotle Beet Relish, actually, lovingly prepared by the Farm Girl herself, Vicki McNamara. Mike had made delicious sandwiches with roast beef, goat cheese, and this relish. We all loved them, including the kids. I offered a bite of the relish to my parents, who tried to demur, but I bullied them into trying it anyway. They were both pleasantly surprised. Can I say they relished it? I had to. It is an odd combination that works surprisingly well. Vicki told me she had worked with a chef to find the right balance between the smokey chipotle and the earthiness of the beet. I found that both kept their fully unique flavour, but complemented each other in just the right kind of harmony.
A big favourite with our kids was an offering Vicki says is always the pick of kids who stop by her booth for samples. The cheekily named Mustard Rings ‘n’ Strings is just like those mustardy pickled onions your mother used to make (or maybe it was just my mother?) but the onions are sliced into…rings and strings. My kids loved the name and the flavour. They are a creamy, tangy, crunchy, yummy side dish with a lot of visual appeal: the vivid yellow made a beautiful addition to the purple meat sandwiches. If you love mustard pickles, you will love these. The strings and rings make them less prone to rolling off your plate, which is always a great feature.
Our final sample was the most unusual combination of all. Pumpkin Marmalade is a really cool concept. It is made with oranges, ginger, and lemon (in addition to the pumpkin, of course). I asked Vicki how she’d come up with such a crazy combination. She shrugged, smiled, and told me she had a lot of pumpkins. Profusion is the mother of creative concoctions?
My favourite way to eat this delectable marmalade is warmed and used as a nacho chip dip. It is important, after all, to have options with storm chips. It is also yummy on toast with some butter. It’s similar to the most standard style of marmalade but with a twist – the pumpkin gives it a mellow, smooth, and rich flavour. I really think Paddington would approve.
Farm Girl Preserves are available at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market and you can ‘like’ her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.