In my opinion, there are few better ways to unwind after a long day at work than chatting with friends over great food and drinks. You can keep your couches and TV marathons, I want to talk about the goings-on of the world over a great glass of wine and a few (or more) bites of something delicious. And then talk some more.....admittedly very much about TV marathons (a paradox I'm sure you can appreciate), actual marathons, politics perhaps, and who knows what else.
I was feeling very much in need of such a night lately. Luckily, I was presented with just the right opportunity to do cinq a sept in style: round up some food-loving friends and head to East Thirty-Six on a Wednesday night where talented Executive Chef Brent Maxwell would whip up a multi-course menu for us to enjoy. TWIST MY ARM, right?
Of course, there is a catch.
All of the dishes would include, and be inspired by.......wait for it.....jam.
Stay with me here. Just in case you think this is taking a turn for the unbearably saccharine, we're talking not just any chef, not just any crew, and certainly not just any jam. Brent was charged with the task of compiling a menu based on Bonne Maman preserves and spreads. These are sophisticated, delectable flavours that have been produced and well loved in France for decades. If Chef was up for the challenge, so was I.
My hungry group of bon vivants (some of whom I work out with every week, so I know just how hungry they are) assembled at the fashionable nook that is East Thirty-Six. If you haven't been, this glossy gem on Wellington features carefully crafted cocktails and an indulgent sharing menu. Everything about it looks and feels like the kind of spot I want to be to shake off whatever kind of crazy has been going on in my week. Even if it was only Wednesday.
We were joined by celeb Chef Christine Tizzard, who knows a thing or two about creating delicious food. As we sipped our La Bonne Mere Martinis, I asked her why she loves working with Bonne Maman and how their preserves and spreads can go the distance from sweet to savoury dishes:
Full disclaimer: I had no idea ahead of time what Chef Maxwell had planned for us, other than each item had to contain Bonne Maman flavours. It just happened to turn out that he included some of my absolute favourites foods in the night's menu. Not kidding. Duck confit, burrata, bone marrow, chocolate. To be a little on the macabre side, this is my idea of a "best last meal ever." And I more or less embarrassed myself completely by stating repeatedly how excited I was about that fact. So. EXCITED. Apparently I need to get out more often.
There you have it. From start to finish, my idea of a perfect meal, all built around the type of ingredients you may already have in your cupboard. And if you don't......WHY NOT? Now if you'll excuse me I've got a spoon and a jar of Dulce de Leche that is calling my name.
Of course everything tastes better when you share with friends.
All photos by Jeffrey Chan for Bonne Maman.