Food brings everyone together, especially during the holidays. One of the best parts of the season is spending time with loved ones and stuffing your face to your heart’s content. But let’s be real, I pretty much do that at every meal. I had the pleasure of attending my first holiday party of the season at Irene Matys of The Spicy Olive’s beautiful home, where she prepared an amazing holiday feast for myself and 6 other foodie friends.
Irene and I had been following each other on Instagram for a long while and as a huge admirer of her delicious recipes and food, I was thrilled to be able to take our Insta-friendship from online to offline and taste her cooking for myself. And I wasn’t disappointed. Irene effortlessly whipped up an incredible meal, incorporating four different Bonne Maman jams: Cherry, Blueberry, Orange Marmalade, and Caramel. For decades, Bonne Maman has been creating their special preserves in France, with all natural ingredients and no artificial colours, additives, or preserves. Upon first bite, I instantly fell in love with their jams and practically licked spoonfuls of them straight from the jar. No shame.
Irene creatively used a different Bonne Maman jam into each dish, highlighting the jam’s flavour profile and bringing them to the forefront. While getting to know one another, we munched on a local cheese board with spiced nuts, dried fruit, and a lovely cherry jam port and herb preserve. We then feasted on a winter salad with pears, cranberries, pecans, and goat feta tossed in a delicious blueberry jam balsamic vinaigrette. And what’s a holiday dinner without some turkey? Irene crafted a turkey roulade with an orange mandarin jam sauce, served with a crispy shallot potato mash and herbed carrots. Not your traditional turkey with gravy, Irene’s version was sweeter with the burst of orange marmalade sauce.
The dinner ended on a sweet note, and my favourite component of any meal -– dessert. We indulged in a vanilla bean ricotta ice cream, with a warm sweet wine and raisin caramel spread sauce, and topped with a cherry jam macaron. This was probably my favourite dish and I could’ve easily had seconds (or thirds). The dulce de leche jam was so good, I scooped more spoonfuls of it into my dessert because there’s no such thing as too much dulce de leche right?
I left the dinner that night with my stomach full, and my heart inspired by the wonderful people I had met, especially the loveliest host and The Spicy Olive herself. For delicious recipes and to see more photos from that night, check out Irene's site here.