We here in Ottawa are lucky ducks, so many artisan food vendors call this city home and we get to reap the benefits. One of these amazing artisans is Michael Sunderland – founder, proprietor and confectioner of Michaelsdolce – unique and amazing jams loved by many a foodie including those at C’est Bon Cooking , Foodie Prints and little old me! I recently sat down for a quick one on one with Michael  and got to sample 8 of his mind blowing jams.

This January will mark the one year anniversary of Michaelsdolce, I asked Michael why he started making Jam in the first place. He responded that conventional jam is too sweet and too thick. The regular flavours available at the grocery store are so overloaded by sugar that you can hardly taste the fruit, combinations of which are a bit boring. So Michael set out to develop completely different flavours of jam that would lend themselves better to food pairings while showcasing the actual fruit. And boy did he succeed!

Michaelsdolce jams use local fruits and ingredients whenever possible, I asked Michael how he felt this improved his product. He told me that the connection he has with the farmers, lowering that gap between field to fork and seeing the love and energy they put into their food is transferred into that food. Being made with love right from seed improves the flavour of the end product. Some of the local products Michael uses include Upper Canada Cranberries and Peaches/Cherries from Beansville which he sources at the Lansdowne Market.

The next logical question was where does Michael get his fruit during the winter, the answer surprised me. Michael told me that a lot of fruit farmers freeze their excess fruit and berries thus giving him a local supplier even in the winter. When necessary Michael himself freezes fruit and berries for the winter months. Failing that he will import as long as the flavour and quality of product is there. If not, there are some flavours of jam that are unavailable year round.

 For those of you looking to try some of Michaelsdolce jams – you are in luck. Starting in December there will be a variety pack available from local suppliers including: Market Organics, Life of Pie, Ottawa Bagel Shop and Brown Loaf Bakery. For a complete list of locations selling this amazing product please visit www.michaelsdolce.com . Or why not visit Michael and 20 other artisan vendors this weekend at the Ottawa Locavore Artisan Food Fair? There is free admission and it promises to be an amazing time. For more information click here.

But back to the jam… what did I think??

If I had one word for each of the amazing Michaelsdolce’s jams I sampled, they would be as follows:

Spiced Cherry – Favourite
Raspberry and Orange – Fresh
Strawberry and Balsamic – Heavenly
Peach and Cardamom – Inspired
Blueberry and Lavender – Astonishing
Kiwi and Lime – Unexpected
Cranberry and Apricot – Real
Papaya and Pink Grapefruit – Smile

I suppose I could elaborate a little more. The spiced cherry was my favourite. Complex and unbelievably tasty I could see eating this on scones, with cheese or by the spoonful. The Raspberry Orange was a bright and fresh tasting jam that I found worked really well with Brussel sprouts. I know that sounds crazy. But the light citrus and sweet raspberries really added a punch to a normally bland little veg.

 

The Strawberry Balsamic is quite liquid – on purpose – and works best if added to something porous such as a homemade English muffin. It’s sweet but not in a typical too much sugar added way. Instead the sweetness of the balsamic highlights the berries and brings them to a new level.

Honestly I could say something like this for each flavor – but I want to hear from you. For those of you lucky enough to try some of Michaelsdolce’s artisan jam what is your favourite flavour and what make it so? For those who have yet to try it – head out and get yourself some. It’s truly a special product made right here in Ottawa that you have to experience!

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