Gooseberry jam made at the Acadian Museum:
As you can see, I have already - ahem - sampled it. My mom says that her father (who lived in rural Quebec) loved gooseberry jam, which she pronounces GOOZberry, which I assume is the way he pronounced it. He lived to be 95, so I figure it must be good for one's health. (Or it could be that it was something else -- the thing my grandmother believed was good for his health -- which is a shot of whiskey in his tea every morning despite the fact that he claimed to be a teetotaler. Boy, did my grandmother make good tea, he assumed! Nobody else makes good tea like you do, Ma! [that's what he called her] Must be because she was a nurse. Haha. Or it could just be good genes. The longevity genes, I haz them.)
I'd never tried goozberry jam, so when I saw it there I just had to buy some for me and for my mom. The man there who made it said it is made with just two ingredients -- goozberries and sugar. So it meets the Michael Pollan rule of eating nothing that contains more than five ingredients. Good enough for me. And oh, so tasty.
A very special olive oil and a very special vinegar:
On Commercial Street in Portland, Maine, a shop whose name I have unfortunately forgotten had the most wonderful selection of oils and vinegars to sample. A sip of oil, a sip of vinegar, a sip of oil, a sip of vinegar. Yum! It was amazing to taste the differences. I truly could TASTE the differences and put words to the flavors: "This one tastes like grass. This one is acidic and fizzy. This one tastes like cigar smoke."
People do that with wine [and cheese] all the time, but up till now I've always thought, "Oh, how pretentious!" when they go on: "Figgy, with some smoke and a touch of plums; a little vinegar, with a light chocolate finish." Pfffffft.
I think I have a pretty sophisticated palate most of the time, but it all tastes like wine [or cheese] to me. I can say, "Mmmm, this tastes GREAT! I love this!" but it all just tastes like wine. Or cheese.
Apparently I'm an oil-and-vinegar girl, and not a wine or cheese girl. Or maybe I will be all over the wine and cheese subtleties when I grow up or something. We did buy a Nova Scotia wine that a woman in the liquor store highly recommended, and it turned out to be really just too sweet for my taste -- so much so that I couldn't finish my glass. So maybe I'm getting there. However, the local wine that Paula and Sandy bought the day before was much better. They chose it because the label was pretty, which is often what I do, and it just goes to show you...what, I'm not sure.
But anyway, I loved the California Manzanillo oil because it really tastes like ....... olives. Clean, pure, true-young-olivey taste. Yummmmmdelicious! Can't wait to have some on salad. And I love the way they bottled it in the sexy bottles at the shop. And the pomegranate balsamic really hit a note with me.
Then at Maine's Pantry, I went a little bit crazy with the Stonewall Kitchen jams and toppings they had. We get a few of these things in some of my local stores, but not this great variety. I'm just such a jamhead, really. There was some dark chocolate-salted-caramel sauce that didn't make it past me and Sandy, the hotel room, and a couple of spoons. Lucky for my waistline, we forgot the rest of the jar at Paula's. Enjoy it, Paula!
Also at Maine's Pantry, Mr. Jefferies got a couple treats:
Is it kind of a hoot how he is in the exact same pose for two of these photos, but his octopus has been moved? Looks kind of like I Photoshopped him in, eh? Translation: He wants me to play with him, and I was playing with him in between setting up shots. But he also wants to focus on the activity on the street in case any people-chasing or dog-chasing emergency comes up or something. He is just too funny, that boy.