Until recent years I used to be a purist when it came to my cheese. I wanted nothing to interfere with the taste, much like a coffee taster who wouldn’t think of adding cream to his coffee. Then we traveled to Italy. After a great five course meal at Antinori winery, we were given a second dessert. This consisted of several local pecorino cheeses with a topping of Acacia honey. The way I enjoy cheese changed forever.
I now don’t hesitate topping my cheese with honey, preserves, balsamic vinegar, figs, apricots, nuts, jams, chutneys and whatever else someone suggests is a great pairing. I do admit that this can be a trial and error method but I so enjoy the journey.
So, what would be a cheese mongers dream? How about somebody preparing a selection of high quality sweet and savory fruit spreads infused with honey, liquors, herbs, and spices and then pairing the selection with the proper cheeses and then beautifully packaging them for gifts and retail. Thank you, Blake Hill, for doing just that.
About Blake Hill Farms
Located in Windsor Vermont, this farm has become one of the most sought-after local jam, marmalade, and chutney producers at farmers markets and specialty food stores. They have teamed up with local cheese makers and craft breweries to provide gourmet products for the specialty food trade. This all came to be through the efforts of Joe Hanglin and Vicky Allard.
Blake Hill comments that they are proud to being the only producer to win Gold at the SOFI’s (International Fancy Food Show), the US Food Award, and the World Marmalade Award! They are known for bold flavors, super clean ingredients, and no-sugar added options on the market.
The Cheese Pairing Collection
Gourmet, all natural, less sugar, no gluten, no dairy, no GMOs, no nuts, no fillers, Vegan, Kosher
Fig, Pear and Honey
Complex, luscious fig jam, perfect with everything. Try with English Ford cheddar, Piave Vechio, Bucheron, Humboltd Fog, Midnight Moon, Ewephoria, La Tur, Fromage D’Affinois
Wild Blueberry and Thyme
Tart, incredibly fruity, for goat cheese and Camembert, D’Affinois, Brie, Lat Tur, triple crèmes, Kunik
French Onion with Rosemary
Sweet, savory, complex jam for nutty Alpine-style cheeses. Try it with Appenzeller, Challerhocker, Gruyere, Red Witch
Fresh-from-the-orchard apple taste for cheddars.
Cherry with Port and Cardamom
Delicately spiced bright cherries for blues and bries
Strawberry and Vanilla
Decadent, luxurious, fruity jam for triple crèmes
Apricot, Orange and Honey
For washed rinds like Oma, Diva, Chaumes
Orange with Ten Year Single Malt Whisky
For cheddars, Stag, Ford Quebec 7-year
Spiced Plum with Port
For blue cheese, Bayley Hazen, Arethusa Blue, Stilton
Raspberry Mostarda with Ice Wine
For bloomy rinds like Harbison
Other Blake Hill Preserves and Jams
Naked Pure Fruit Jams
Strawberry, blueberry, peach, raspberry – all made with no-added-sugars, preservatives, colors or sweeteners
Extra Fruit Preserves/Jams
Strawberry and rhubarb, summer peach and ginger, wild Maine blueberries, raspberry and hibiscus
Fresno and Thai chili, Jalabeno and lime chili, chipotle and maple chili
Meyer lemon with lemon, Persian lime infused with coconut, spicy orange and lime infused with ginger, sweet orange infused with bourbon, Meyer lemon, classic sweet orange
Blake Hill also offers a beautiful gift assortment of eight different one-and-a-half-ounce size jars so you can try a bigger selection at one time. In addition to being a great gift I like it for personal use. It’s a great accompaniment to a cheese tray by adding one or two of these one serving samplers.
In addition to pairing with different cheeses, these preserves can have so many other uses.
We tried using the French onion with rosemary jam as a topping for a pork tenderloin. It was great – full of flavor, juicy and tender. You can be creative and add life to a sandwich or maybe panini with the savory selection. Try the cherry and port on ice cream or maybe cheese cake. You can always use them on toast, English muffins or bagels.
You may not find these fine products everywhere but check with your local Cheese Shop or specialty food store.
I want to thank Vicky and Joe for supplying information and photos for this article.