Last week, I stepped into France for just one night, without actually leaving Toronto. Perhaps you’re already familiar with the beautiful French bistro, La Societe, (located on Bloor street in the heart of the city’s luxury shopping district) and know just how quickly it can transport you to Paris. My experience was further heightened by an invitation from Bonne Maman to discover their legendary classic French jams, and how they can be enjoyed in unexpected ways, as demonstrated by La Societe’s talented Chef, Romain Avril.
To be honest, I recognized the Bonne Maman‘s gingham-topped packaging right away, but wasn’t too familiar with the product. A product that, apparently, is part of a French heritage like maple syrup is to Canadians. What is so wonderful to know about this brand is that their products are 100% natural, and they’ve stayed true to their classic recipes since 1971. Even Chef Romain shared his excitement (and relief) to find that when he opened a jar of Bonne Maman jam, it tasted exactly the same as he remembered, and it sent him straight back to his childhood days in France.
Since I’m not a not a regular consumer of jam on toast, I was thrilled when Bonne Maman and La Societe shared that they wanted to show us just how far beyond the standard piece of jam and toast you can go with a bit of imagination, and Bonne Maman products. Here’s a look at what we enjoyed:
To start, Chef Romain presented us with one of my very favourite things in life: fois gras. In this case, he placed in front of us an artfully plated fois gas terrine with roasted gig, Bonne Maman fig chutney macho, and fig mouilette with balsamic reduction. Personally, I loved that he used both the fig chutney and a fresh fig, for a nice mix of textures and fig flavours on the plate.
Here’s a behind the scenes look of what it’s like to attend a blogger dinner, and I’m sure it’s not a huge surprise that we’ve always got our phones out! I love sitting next to one of my favourite food and lifestyle bloggers in the city, my friend Daniel Desforges of DoTheDaniel.com. Not only do we get to catch up and have a laugh together, but I love to hear his thoughts on each dish, and catch a glimpse of what he’s capturing.
Chef Romain came out to present each course to us and it was so wonderful to hear (straight from the source) how he was inspired and what exactly we were about to enjoy. To be honest, hearing him talk started to get my own creative juices flowing and my eyes couldn’t stop darting from him, to the plate in front of me, to the jams laid out on the table, thinking of all of the different ways I could start using Bonne Maman in my dishes at home.
Oddly, the main course of the evening featured another of my favourite foods, and one that I always order when it’s on a menu: Duck. This has lead me to believe that I must share some sort of psychic connection with Chef Romain, because it would seem he created my dream menu for the night without evening realizing it.
This stunning plate was so delicious and featured pan seared duck breast with Bonne Maman blackcurrent gel, radicchio, green beans and shallots salad, sautéed hen of the wood, edamame, and Bonne Maman wild blueberry jus. Just thinking about it again has got me craving it, although I’m not sure I dare try recreating this masterpiece in my own kitchen.
See? I told you I love looking at Daniel’s photos when we’re together! On the other side of me, I was fortunate to sit next to another one of the night’s star guests, Chef Christine Tizzard. When I asked Christine what she loves to make most, she said she loves to bake. However, she was excited to share that she had recently slow cooked a piece of pork that she had smothered in a Bonne Maman jam and was very pleased to report that it was super delicious when it was done. You could even pull it apart and enjoy the sweet hint in your pulled pork sandwich if you wished.
Last but not least came dessert! And just look at that thing, isn’t it incredible? Here Chef Romain created the La Societe/Bonne Maman Shortbread Millionaire that featured shortbread soil, Bonne Maman dulce de leche ice cream, small pieces of shortbread millionaire, and chocolate chards.
As you can see, and as I discovered that night, there are so many fabulous ways to incorporate a classic Bonne Maman jam into everyday cooking that goes far beyond your typical piece of jam and toast. Trust me, you’ll be seeing a recipe post coming to GracieCarroll.com very soon, so look out for it!
(All images by Jeffrey Chan)