The night I fell in love with The Fruit Garden...
The Fruit Garden has been a constant participant in foodie taste test events and local bazaars. I've never been a jam person, and so I appreciated one on just a level of a simple breakfast item that's partnered with toast. The only ones I remember liking were those I had from Knott's Berry Farm in California, on one of our US trips as a kid. Granted, The Fruit Garden's Luxury Jams were more exquisite than those I find in groceries and supermarkets. While the usual fare were either bland, too smooth that it became one-dimensional, or overly cloying that it made me choke, this particular brand had a perfect consistency of what I perceived jams to supposedly have -- a slightly thickened viscosity. Those that I've tasted had a saccharine property, but pleasantly far from the border of sickeningly sweet. Admittedly though, the fact that I don't have a sweet tooth gave me no reason to order more bottles for my own personal consumption. That is until I attended a cocktail party which highlighted The Fruit Garden's Luxury Jams as accent to different savory dishes.
Pierre Marmonier, owner of The Fruit Garden, recently collaborated with Chef Jesse Sincioco of Chef Jessie restaurant in Rockwell Club. Wanting to make everyone aware that jams are no longer just for breakfast, they prepared gourmet dishes that integrated the different flavors being offered by The Fruit Jam.
We started off with the Country Pâté on Toast with Strawberry Black Pepper Jam, which was simply superb. It was love at first taste, as my palate marveled at the lovely combination of both the somewhat salty pasty spread and the sweet peppery note of the jam, preceded by an echoing crunch from the toast. I'm not sure if we were allowed to get more than one, but I couldn't help reaching out for another as the waiter passed by.
The Tuna Tartar with Nori Strips and Mango Ginger Jam was just as magnificent with a spicy endnote from the tartar tempered by the fusion of mango and ginger. It was quite addicting actually, and so when the waiter offered me another round, I couldn't bring myself to be polite and say no.
The Grilled Chicken with Peach and Mango Spice Jam had diced chicken wrapped in strips of peaches and punctured through with bamboo skewers, then covered with mango jam infused with different spices. It would be better if these finger foods were translated into main courses as really, one tiny bite isn't enough. They were all good.
Next was the Grilled Roast Pork with Prunes and Passion Fruit Jam held by toothpick capped with colored cellophane. The dried plums had a sweet taste that was robust and distinct, which overpowered the passion fruit jam-covered roast pork a bit.
Another moreish appetizer was the Warm Brie with Pear Cumin Jam on Toast. I usually don't like pear much, but this one tainted with a certain piquant, earthy taste of cumin had a lingering effect that made you hanker for more. Together with the soft brie, it was plain scrumptious. I just kept on munching, the crumbs leaving an evidence of my shameless appetite.
I loved the Cheese Feuilletés with Guava Jam. The puff pastry was warm and the jam inside doesn't have the usual sweet sour taste of guava; nor does it have that gritty texture I detest. Rather, it had a smooth, slight guava flavor that was more of sweet and complemented the bread quietly.
The Assorted Mini Mango Pavlova with Tropical Paradise Jam, Lychee Berry Rose Jam, and Strawberry Mint Jam proved to be too sweet for my taste as the mango pavlova was already sweet on its own even without the help of jams. Nevertheless, they were still good, albeit a bit of a challenge to eat.
The Strawberry Gazpacho with Berry Dream Jam had a certain dark tartness that washed away the cloying property of the previous hors d'oeuvre. Initially strong in taste, it got milder with each succeeding sup. Admittedly, its sweetness still compelled me to grab another Country Pâté and Tuna Tartar since I wanted my last bite to be something savory instead of sweet. So what if that sounded like a lame excuse to have another go at those two? What can I say, they're that good!
The night ended with pretty Belgian pralines from Risa Chocolates infused with different jam flavors:
- Yellow - Mango Ginger Crunch
- Purple - Mango Spice Crunch
- Green - Pineapple Coco Rhum
- Red - Mango Guyabano
- Orange - Orange (My favorite! Absolutely divine!)
- Light Brown - Tropical Paradise
- Dark Brown - Berry Dream
- White - Strawberry Mint
For this season, they have new flavors: the Berry Dream, which consists of blueberry, strawberry and a tincture of violet flower; and the Tropical Paradise, which has a mixture of passion fruit, mango and pineapple. Their wave bottles are pretty as well if you'd like to give these luxury jams as gifts. What's nice about this, is that these jams are Philippine made using our finest local fruits. With a wide range of flavors to choose from, this would be a great gift this holiday or even to just keep for yourself. Good news is that The Fruit Garden jams are available all year round. Oh, and they even have 100% Pure Philippine Honey hailed by some foodies to be the best there is. Visit their Facebook page to see where you can get all these!
The Fruit Garden