DPEM’s sister company Seedling Projects recently held the Blind Tasting for the 2016 Good Food Awards. The event included 220 experts judging 1,937 artisanal products from around the country. Dominic Phillips, executive producer at DPEM, moonlighted as a Good Food Awards Judge for the Preserves category and made his way through a staggering 172 entries. Here’s what he had to say about his experience:
Where does your love of preserves stem from?
I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up and having been through the hardships of war, they lived in a very humble way. This involved making jams when fruit was plentiful, so whether it be on home made bread at breakfast or between layesr of cake at tea time, we were always enjoying the pleasures of preserves.
Leading up to the blind tasting, what were you the most excited for?
Marmalade. I am devout when it comes to this bitter-sweet experience. For me it is the perfect harmony of flavors, and a really good Marmalade also speaks to the strength of character of it’s maker – getting the thickness of rind and its softness balanced with bright flavor and spreadable consistency is not for the faint of heart.
How did you keep your palette fresh between tasting each preserve entry?
Milky coffee. Just enough of a contrast with just enough acid to keep my palate awake.
Anything specific you were looking for in your evaluation of each preserve?
There is a science to it, as I was educated before tasting. Taste is not all one looks for – representation of fruit, consistency, set, texture, color. Personally I look for the immediate happiness that comes from great preserves that take no training or experience. It just surprises and delights as soon as it arrives on the tongue.
What are you when it comes to preserves: a traditionalist or a renegade?
I believe good is good. Perfect an old recipe or explore a new one, just ensure it is good. Often times I feel that the desire for adventure gets ahead of the dedication to flavor. It leaves the maker explaining why a product is good. When things are good they need no explanation.
Based on what you tasted, are there any trends we can look forward to seeing surface in the near future?
I would say that in tasting all the versions of preserves there is still a strong place for simplicity. It was definitely easier to enjoy the simpler recipes than the more complicated.
Photos by Kassie Borreson.