quinta-feira, 5 de agosto de 2010
A place called Niedermorschwihr...
There is a small village in France with a very strange name, in South Alsace, the region of the Upper Rhine, located 6km from Colmar and 373km from Paris, which hides a little factory of the most special jams. In this very small French village with the German name Niedermorschwihr is located Au Relais des Trois Epis the jam epicenter of Christine Ferber, France's number one jam master.
Around a corner in the Rue des Trois Epis is located la Maison Ferber a small factory where Christine Ferber produces her famous jams. From Niedermorschwihr her creations win the world in small and medium sized jars, decorated with white and red polka dots fabric, filled with artisanal deliciousness and loaded with France's most profitable creation: terroir.
The flavors of Madame Ferber's jams mix local Alsace fruits, tropical fruits, flowers (most rose and violet), herbs, spices of all sorts, nuts and chocolate. The storeAu Relais des Trois Epis (the only one in the village of Niedermorschwihr by the time I was there) is a mixture of bakery, delicatessen, bookstore and grocery market and it offers a little bit of everything, to please both the tourist and the locals of Niedermorschwihr: fruits, cakes, tarts, biscuits, cheese, charcuterie d'Alsace, bien sur, fresh fruits, Ferber's entire book collection, Alsatian pottery pots, detergents and commercial soap. The large selection of jams which fills the shelves which take an entire wall of the small shop is the main attraction to foreign visitors who come from everywhere in the world.
At a certain distance from the place we could already feel the strong aromas of jam in the making in the air. Per was the first to notice it. How much I wish my house could smell that way and I really wished I could master the art of jam making, just like Pete and Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. OK, my jams are pretty good, I must admit without embarrassment, but I must learn to experiment more, I need to learn some more about the chemistry of preserving, to be more aware of the limits of sugar, acid juices and pectin in the fruit soup. For that reason I pushed my Per Niedermorschwihr to visit Madame Ferber's relais.
I was not planning to leave the place empty handed and it would not have been possible at all. We bought five jars of jam, some bread and some meringue. We bought two jars to offer as gifts to my in laws: a seedless Raspberry jam (Framboise d'Alsace) and Black Cherry (Cerises Noir d'Alsace). I picked two for me: Strawberry and Mango (Fraises d'Alsace et mangues) and Rapsberry, green apples and pistachio (Framboises d'Alsace, Pommer Verts et Pistaches) and Per picked a jar for him: Blackcurrant, apple and violet (Cassis, pommes et violette). It was pretty difficult to choose the flavors and up to the last minute I was changing the flavors. I could have bought more jars but what I was looking for was some inspiration to work and create with my the fruits from my own garden this year.
The Strawberry and mango jam (Fraises D'Alsace et mangue) should have been called Mango and Strawberry jam as the mango is the dominant not only in flavor but in texture of the jam is that of the mango pulp. The flavor is perfect, intense, mild, perfect amount of sugar, not acid at all and the perfect presence of the strawberry on the back of the mixture. No seed, no pieces, no strings nothing to distract the most amazing taste. I would never have made jam with mango and strawberries as in Brazil, where I grew up, the season for best mangoes doesn't coincide with that for the best strawberries, which is concentrated in winter months. It is a foreigner thing though, when one is dealing with imported fresh or frozen mangoes one is able to create perfect mixtures using these adorable fruits and create amazing jams. Oh, how much I wish I had bought two jars of this jam instead...
As soon as I am able to put my hands on some well ripen mangoes, I will try to make my own version of this jam to which I hope will be adding some amazingly perfect Norwegian strawberries. However, if you have access to some good and ripe mangoes make your own version of this jam now, you won't regret this mixture. Don't forget to add some terroir (from your mangoes or your strawberries or even your sugar) to you jam too, the origin of the produce is definitely part of the magical result, don't you think?
If one of these days you find yourself wandering around Alsace, try to find the way that takes you to Niedermorschwihr and the Au Relais des Trois Epis, you won't regret...
Christine Ferber's Au Relais des Trois Epis
18, Rue des Trois Epis