Christmas is around the corner, and with it, we are to be practically assaulted with Christmas markets around town, such as Souk @ SAT and Puces POP and I am omitting quite a few. There are so many seasonal lovelies to buy for your significant others and not so significant others. I love this time of year too because even if you don’t celebrate the season, there are always birthdays, parties, potlucks and the odd housewarming that you will be invited to and there is never an occasion where the gift of a speciality food item is not a welcome change.
One of the purveyors of fine eats this year as featured in the two aforementioned events is Bals Provisions. The lady behind the Etsy page, Ms. Crystal Porcher a.k.a Crystal Bals (!) has created a beautiful set of small-batch preserves and baked goods that, for now, are only available at the holiday markets. Inspired by her grandmother and mother’s love of preserves, and being a high-end baker by trade, she has used this project as a way of developing and perfecting new recipes.
I got to try three of her products in advance, the blueberry-lime jam, boozetella and the onion, white wine and rosemary marmalade. They were, I am glad to say, excellent. The blueberry-lime jam is a bit subtle, but that’s not a negative, as the fact that it isn’t sweetened to an inch of its life lets the lime come through and freshen up the flavors. The boozetella is almost like nutella but richer from the wine and it pairs amazingly with Gala apple slices. My favorite, being a savory fiend, was the marmalade. I had it on toast and the flavors are very strong. I think that it will make an excellent dressing on a plain or cheese omelet.
I had some questions for Crystal regarding her favorite flavor profiles at the moment:
Crystal says, “My favourite flavour at the moment is cardamom. I never really liked it before – I have always found it far too perfume-y and floral. But I’ve been making these sweet cardamom crackers (available in the Holiday Cookie Box) that I can’t get enough of! I think maybe the mistake I was making was cooking savoury foods with it, when it really matches better in sweet foods. And lately, what with making 2500 cookies in the past four days, I’ve turned into a cookie monster.”
That sounds rather exciting to me and I am looking forward to what will be on offer. The Bals Provisions table this year will have the Holiday Cookie Box, as well as the following products: Blueberry Lime jam, Strawberry Balsamic jam, Boozetella, Apple Butter, Kelemen’s Dill Pickles, Pickled Green Tomatoes, Pickled Dill Carrots and the following special holiday products: Holiday Cranberry Sauce, Onion, Rosemary, and White Wine Marmalade, Blackberry-Bay Leaf jam, Raspberry -Tonka Bean jam and Yellow Pickled Beets.
Bals Provisions will be featured at Souk @ SAT (1201 St. Laurent) on November 27 and 28 from noon to 9 p.m. and November 29 and 30 from noon to 7 p.m. and at Puces POP (Église Saint-Denis, 5075 rue Rivard) on December 12 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and December 13 and 14 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.