Folktales are real.
– Italo Calvino
Whidbey. Blake. Bainbridge. Vashon. San Juan. Orcas. The names of the islands of Puget Sound always stir memories of the magical year I spent there between college and Peace Corps service in Africa. I lived on Bainbridge Island, where I worked for an independent magazine staffed by extraordinary women (I was in fact the only male on staff) by day and a locally-focused pub owned by British ex-pats serving Washington State beer, wine, seafood, and burgers by night. I often cite my year on Bainbridge as a highly influential period in my life and a necessary step toward starting Big Spoon Roasters.
The Bainbridge community of writers, gardeners, yogis, foragers, cooks, and sailors embodied a DIY spirit and pride of work that not only fueled my hunger for new skills, but also inspired confidence that anything is possible through dedication and practice. I came to Bainbridge as someone who loved to cook and was curious about where food came from. I left a lifelong student of cooking and a more active participant in the supply chains leading from farm to table. What a difference a year makes.
Girl Meets Dirt, the maker of our August Featured Jam, was born of this same place and ethic. I first encountered their fruit preserves a couple of years ago at a Good Food Mercantile in San Francisco. I could literally taste the Pacific Northwest in every spoonful, and I felt like I had met a kindred spirit. Just shy of 10 years in Manhattan, founder Audra Lawlor left a Wall Street career and “convenient city life” with a new husband and two dogs to head West and start afresh in a farmhouse down a one-lane Orcas Island road.
It rains a lot on Orcas, but when the spring sun peaks through, a bounty of sweet berries burst forth and must be gathered, eaten, or preserved within a precious few weeks. Tree fruits love it there, too. After the buds and blooms of summer, fall weighs down limbs across the region with juicy stone-fruit and pomes. Bramley apples, Bartlett pears, Italian plums, and heirloom varieties of quinces from century-old trees fill markets, baskets, and bellies. Girl Meets Dirt play an important role in this rhythm of the seasons, preserving fleeting island fruit with just the right amounts of dedication, practice, and a hot copper pot.
We are thrilled to offer Girl Meets Dirt’s Rhubarb Lavender Spoon Preserves as our August 2017 Featured Jam. Deep within Orcas Island’s bucolic Crow Valley, once planted as far as the eye could see in orchard fruit, lies JBS Farm’sgorgeous patch of rhubarb. Audra has selected their deep red Valentine variety for this batch of preserves, which she lightly infused with garden-grown English culinary lavender buds. The perfect balance of tart and sweet with just a touch of floral, this deep pink preserve is gorgeous with soft, creamy cow’s milk cheeses, a buttered baguette, or dolloped over panna cotta or ice cream. According to Audra, it’s also been known to play nice stirred into a bit of bubbly for a special kind of toast. We especially love this jam paired with the lighter roast of our Peanut Cashew Butter and the toothsome richness of our Mission Almond Butter, preferably all piled together in the ice cream sundae of our dreams. We are offering Girl Meets Dirt’s Rhubarb Lavender Spoon Preserves a la carte, as well as in recommended PB&J and AB&J pairings.