gem of a jam

my friend and co-worker janina (the brains/brawn behind local, small batch jam company, little isobel) gave me a late christmas gift today, presented in a small brown bag adorned with my name written in cursive. inside, i found 4 treasures - mostly edible, hurrah!! - all handmade and cute as can be. there was a beautiful, slender bottle of creamy, dreamy coquito (veganized, bless her dear heart), a jar of mincemeat, and a jar of sparkling bath salts scented with grown up oils like lavender and sandalwood.

but the kicker, the real cherry on top, was a teensy, tiny jar of alpine strawberry jam. it is so f-ing precious, i kind of can't handle it (i am an unabashed lover of needlessly tiny objects):

{it may be hard to
tell but this adorable
jar only holds
like 2 ounces}

as i soon learned (from the jam master herself), this jar is not needlessly tiny. it is, in fact, need-fully (or whatever) tiny, because apparently alpine strawberries are very rare and very, very expensive. they are so small and delicate, she explained, that they bruise at even the slightest rough touch. once bruised, they soon disintegrate and are then worthless. most farmers won't mess with the alpine strawberry because of the painstaking effort it takes to harvest them and the subsequent price that must be charged to compensate for the tedium and time consumption. lucky for us, janina's fav farmer paul has the guts to raise these tender babies, and janina has the guts to spend a whopping sum to obtain them.

i just now ate a wee spoonfull of this stuff and...whaaa!?! these dainty fruits do not produce a dainty flavor. the strawberry flavor is in there, but the taste is closer to candy than to a product of nature. janina described it as "a cross between smarties and a fruit roll up," and while i do detect those notes, there is also depth and intensity rarely found in those kinds of sweets. in fact, i don't think i've ever tasted anything like it, natural or synthetic. and like all little isobel jams and preserves, the texture is simply perfect, and the amount of sweetness is spot on - the woman can jam the shit out of some fruit! and thankfully, others are starting to take notice.

so i just wanted to share this special little treat with you all (thank you again j), and alert you of the wondrous gems known as alpine strawberries.


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