Preserve, is the newly opened store front location for Flora & Farmer preserves. Preserve is located at the back of Hildegard’s Bakery with entrances through the bakery, or off Maryland Street. Flora & Farmer’s tagline is: “Delightfully daring preserves your grandma never made.” This is in, reference to the fact that several of the preserves are alcohol -infused, although I think that may be underestimating a lot of grandmas.
Flora & Farmer’s owner/chef is Kim Bialkoski. I’ve bought her preserves for many years, since I first ran into her at some pop up market for crafters. I often purchase her products at Farmers Markets, local coffee shops, and now at Preserve.
Preserve is also an accessible store, although the cornering in the shop may be a little tight.
Along the way I’ve got to know her a little bit. Kim puts her heart and soul into everything she does. It’s always a pleasure taking a couple of minutes to chat. This is especially true if you are asking about any Flora & Farmer products you may be buying.
Whenever possible, Kim’s products are local, organic, and created with as little added sugar as possible. This means that the natural flavours of all the products are the stars of the show.
I say that about Flora & Farmer products, because Preserve also carries a whole lot of products from other local markets. It’s pretty much a one stop local shop.
I stated at the beginning, the store is set at the back of Hildegard’s. The retail section itself is little more than a hallway. However, it should win an award for best use of a hallway. The walls are lined with several shelves, which do a good job of maximizing the retail space. The cash register is placed in a little kiosk just to one side of the kitchen entrance. Given the number of windows, the store gets a flood of natural light.
The kitchen is in a separate small room at the back of the retail area. It’s a small, but full production kitchen. This makes sure that everything Flora & Farmer produces is tasty and meets all food safety standards.
Sampling the Products
Over the years I’ve eaten a variety of food from Flora & Farmer. As the name Preserve suggests, they offer more than just jams and jellies. You can find sauerkrauts, pickles, salsa, and more in the store and at various other retail locations. My favourite, which I don’t have a photo of, is the Applekraut. Kim limits the sweeteners(honey, sugar, maple syrup) that she adds to her products. This way the natural flavours and sweetness shine through. The Applekraut is one product that it takes real discipline not to eat the whole jar at once.
The Indian Curry Summer Squash Pickles(above), are another recently tried product. Like the Applekraut, I really like the flavour in these. They are good and spicy, and that means just a little satisfies my appetite. These lasted me through about four meals, as a side/appetizer.
Next on the list is one of the boozy spreads. This is the Sambooya Orange Marmalade. Sambuca liqueur has a black licorice flavour to it. I love black licorice but I know many people don’t. In the marmalade however, the Sambuca offers a licorice finish that doesn’t overwhelm the orange. This marmalade is a great way to introduce yourself to licorice flavour if you haven’t tried it before. Also, I like the really big chunks of orange in the marmalade.
Relishing the Preserve Preserves
I also picked up some Lemon Dill Asparagus relish. I wasn’t sure what I would eat this with. It seemed a little silly to just put this on a bun or slice of bread. Thursday, at the Downtown Farmers Market, I chose a piece of Garlic Ham Sausage from Ferris Farms. This is one of my favourite stalls. Pete’s Garlic Ham Sausage offers a smoky taste along with the garlic.
The relish is a perfect complement to this. Once again I used a bun from Lisbon Bakery. I sliced a chunk of the garlic sausage on one side of the bun, and then slathered on the relish on the other side of the bun. I didn’t add any butter(I don’t use margarine), to make sure I got the full relish effect. The relish does a great job of cutting through the smoky aspect of the sausage. You can really taste the asparagus. If your body is so wired, you can also smell it later.
Finally, on this list, is the salsa. This is a fermented salsa. I picked this up a few months ago when I visited the Third + Bird market. The fermentation takes away some of the vinegary quality that a lot of salsas have. At the same time the salsa has a good kick to it, but isn’t overwhelmingly hot.
I think this gives a good overview of the products that Preserve makes and sells. Don’t forget though, that they also carry a lot of other local products, should you want to stock up. The other day I bought some Mr. Biltong Habanero Stokkies, but I ate them all before I got a chance to take a picture. This morning I also picked up a piece of my favourite Bothwell cheese, the Black Truffle. This is a really smooth and rich tasting cheese.
One of the things I like about the Preserve location is that it’s in back of Hildegard’s. This allows me to kill two birds with one stone. Great baked goods at Hildegard’s and great toppings at Preserve. This is a place that I highly recommend that you take time to visit.