Jams. They’re not just for biscuits or preserving the season’s fruity bounty anymore. Local chefs are crafting jams from savory ingredients — and pairing them with dishes far from the expected breakfast pastry.
“I like to complement my flavors with sweet, sour, salty and bitter, so [the fennel jam] seemed like the choice for me,” chef Ben Lambert says.
It’s made with fresh fennel, Chartreuse (an herbal liqueur), ramp-infused pickling liquid, chili for slight heat and mustard seeds, which give the jam a pop reminiscent of caviar, Lambert says.
At Evening Star, the fried brie and toasted brioche is paired with red pepper jam made with red bell peppers, a bit of jalapeno and fresh cayenne plucked from the restaurant’s rooftop garden ($8).
Chef Jim Jeffords was inspired by a childhood’s worth of festive Southern gatherings, where red pepper jelly was typically served with cream cheese and Ritz crackers.
“The pepper jelly has the sweet and the spice, which counter the fat of the cheese,” he says.
The green tomato jam at Firefly works in the same way — as a foil for a decadent dish. The restaurant’s deep-fried mac and pimiento cheese fritters ($12) are served with tangy green tomato jam. Chef Todd Wiss uses the jam to add a sweet-and-sour note to the dish.
At Teddy & The Bully Bar, a smoked carrot jam made with gooseberries adds a subtly sweet, slightly sour note to the summer salad ($8), which currently features thinly shaved zucchini and carrots with a light lemon and vanilla dressing. The jam’s consistency is reminiscent of apple butter, thanks to the addition of agar-agar.
“When you taste the jam, it’s an enhancement,” chef Demetrio Zavala says. “It’s not anything that’s just put there to look pretty.”
701 Restaurant, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-393-0701, 701restaurant.com
Evening Star, 2000 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-549-5051, eveningstarcafe.net
Firefly, 1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW; 202-861-1310, firefly-dc.com
Teddy & The Bully Bar, 1200 19th St. NW; 202-872-8700,teddyandthebullybar.com
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