Sweet Delight: Robert Lambert Creates Tantalizing Confections for Holiday 2011
Robert Lambert didn’t start out as a chocolatier, baker or a chef. He was pretty far from it since he was behind the camera shooting photographs of people and food. However no matter that he was a photographer, the ability to imagine new presentations of food — most specifically unique and limited sectors within desserts and specialty food items became Lambert’s passion. Truly this man is passionate about creating food. Note that I keep saying *create* and not cook. This man ias a food artist. Artisanal in the most artistic sense of the word, he creates beautiful and drool-worthy things out of foods that you might not think should be put together in the same bowl, much less the same refrigerator.
Originally from a Wisconsin farm, he grew up with food in the blood but it takes more than that to do what he does. Few people get to this level of artistry (I wrote about a couple of true food artists last year), while Robert doesn’t specifically focus on chocolate, he delves into categories that are definitely within the realm of desserts and sweets and he is chef & dessert innovator as well as his own photographer. ( How he manages to juggle all that makes my mind whirl but then again, I do too much so maybe it’s just whirling from the fabulous treats I got to sample from his online store).
Kaffir Lime Syrup. (Imagine that on pancakes, ice cream, pork roast, fish…)
The most important thing to remember as you cruise into Lambert’s online market is that each product truly defies the category it’s in. A fruitcake isn’t just a fruitcake. The jams, fruit pastes and marmalades aren’t just things to be spread on toast or bread. The syrups and condiments are exceptionally versatile. If you stick to “categories” as your way of utilizing these items, you will be depriving yourself of the creativity which Lambert has infused into every single product. Yes– they are truly that good.
Do I say that about everyone? No, I don’t. This happens to be (for me) a very happy circumstance that I could try something out that only Northern Californians might know about — and maybe only the foodies. Now I know more and I will be buying more things- because these are explorations of tastes from around the country and the world as Lambert handpicks virtually everything.
Blood Orange Marmalade
in the “making” process.
One of Robert Lambert’s most exquisite taste sensations are his marmalades. These are not the stuffy orange bitter jelly you grew up with. These are delightfully sinful– robust in taste and come in a variety of flavors:
Five Grapefruit Marmalade
Five Lime Marmalade
Five Mandarin Marmalade
Seville Orange Marmalade
Blood Oranage Marmalade.
The “fives” feature a blend of 5 different varieties of grapefruits, mandarin oranges and limes– each capturing a quintessential taste and something that very few artisanal chefs around the globe could create. I was able to taste the Blood Orange Marmalade and it’s delectable– to die for is another good term but I don’t think one could die from anything with this perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavors esconced in a jelly presentation that showcases the fruit and peel. Luscious is a good word too. Blood oranges are a favorite of mine– which Lambert would not have known about — and I have conjured up a cocktail to use this marmalade as the framework so that it is a true marriage of spirit and marmalade — but just a tiny bit because 1) I don’t want to use it all up and 2) it’s too good to miss on a piece of whole grain toast (preferably sourdough) . At $16 per jar, it’s a worthy gift for anyone — especially those who are difficult in finding suitable gifts.
Another super yummy thing I got to try is absolutely sinful: Dark Cherries in Merlot Syrup (Fancy Food Show Gold-Award Winner). This is the most incredible thing I have ever tasted! I knew when I read an email from Lambert’s PR person just mentioning it– I was swooning that someone would think about pairing dark cherries in a merlot syrup. This is an extremely versatile product: use it with meats to deglaze and create a sauce/gravy that your guests will rave about. Pair small amounts with a cheese plate or pour a generous tablespoon over ice cream. Here’s a great way to feature this rich, complex vibrant syrup/condiment.
Add a spoonful of the Dark Cherries in Merlot Syrup to a glass of really fine champagne. (Do not waste this on lesser champagne. Dig out your piggy bank and get yourself the best bottle you can afford). This will be a taste sensation that will make your New Year’s Eve celebration exceptional, noteworthy and not to be forgotten by your guests– even if it’s just for two.
I want to say that the last product I got to try was my favorite but that’s not true. This collection defies finding a favorite. Each item is intoxicating within what it is. Each is meant to be savored like the most expensive scotch, champagne, chocolate, or piece of fish.
The Ginger Caramel Sauce is absolutely killer. It stands up to Recchuitti’s Burnt Caramel Sauce and surpasses in some instances because it’s got that touch of fresh ginger that gives it a bit of bite and creates a flavor sensation on your tongue and in your mouth that unfolds slowly. (Just sit there for a minute– like you do with fine wine– to savor this.)
Sugar cooked golden and rich heavy cream find a perfect match with ginger & spice in this elegant caramel sauce. I have used the same spice profile employed in my White Ginger Syrup here. That no one else has yet combined these flavors I find a great oversight. Enjoy with apples or pears, on ice cream, other desserts. Use out of the jar or heat gently.
At only $14 per jar and this could be part of a cake, or a pie or drizzled lightly over ice cream, or used in creating the most tempting smores or even marry it with a spirit. I haven’t figured out what yet because I am trying to figure out how to balance the delicacy of the caramel sweetness and maintain the ginger spark and not have it overwhelmed by a spirt. Vodka is a huge no, tequila maybe. Rum perhaps.. You might want to add a tablespoon of the spirit to some of the sauce as it warms up and then test drive it yourself. A certain scotch or aged whiskey comes to mind but you would have to reduce the amount used to create that special balance. Alone it would be spectacular with pecan pie or apple pie. If you go online to the link for this sauce, Lambert gives you a fabulous dessert recipe.
There are other sauces not to be ignored like the:
There are four chocolate sauces– each having a divinity of its own spectacular nature; The one shown is the Extreme Vanilla Bean Chocolate Sauce.
Lambert White Fruitcake
Nobody jokes about these carefully constructed fruitcake creations. From their uniquely decorated cheesecloth presentation to the phenomenal ingredients that fill these cakes, they are baked in limited supply as one would if they were doing personal baking– only these fruitcakes (dark and light) are much better than anything mom made!
Seasonal cooking, holiday tables, festive cocktails, hard to please foodies, and more are all magnificently served by creations like Hot Ginger Caramel Sauce, Extreme Vanilla Bean Chocolate Sauce, Raspberry Champagne Jelly, Yuzo Syrup and a host of amazing products and fare to choose from and savor.
Extreme limited editions
Three Rare Citrus Marmalades, limited edition of 40, numbered and signed by the artist. $85
Robert Lambert talks about how he was able to create these rare citrus marmalades– and why you should buy them NOW!
Boxed gift set of three marmalades featuring rare citrus from the renowned Gene Lester Collection in Watsonville, California–with over 300 varieties, the largest private assemblage of citrus in the West. Due to worldwide concerns about spreading citrus pathogens this plant material will not reach this continent again, and cannot be propagated.
Though it is not open to the public I am able to use its bounty and have found many favorites. There’s enough fruit to use as accents in blends, but because in most cases these are single trees, some the only ones in existence, there’s not enough to add any of them to my regular line. This is the first time I have highlighted three specimens in their own jams. Pictured on the lid as I harvested them, they are, from left to right:
A rare hybrid from the Chinese grapefruit family of enormous sour fruits with thick perfumed skin, this large deeply colored pear-shaped fruit caught my eye, and then my nose, its peel strongly redolent of the fruit and flowers of the tropics, of mango and plumeria. It is blended here with other rare pommelos in the collection, juice from white grapefruit I harvested in Napa, and Texas lemon juice, a rare citron-like lemon from DeSantis Farms in Fresno. These compliment and bring balance to its flavor.
One of the outstanding varieties of the collection, and one of Gene’s favorites, perfect fragrant deep orange orbs with fairly thin skins, firm juicy interior flesh and few seeds, designed like an orange but with the flavor of a mandarin. This one deserves to be in the marketplace, and perhaps one day it will be. But for now, here it is alone in all its glory, with just a bit of Rangpur lime juice to cut its sweetness, the glorious color and lively orange mandarin flavor captured and preserved in a jar.
This is the first year’s harvest from this rare tree, just enough for one batch of marmalade. Beautiful round, somewhat bumpy golden-yellow fruits with a distinctive dimpled point at the tip and a flavor both lemon and lime, with hints of fragrant citron, lemon verbena and fresh pine. Blended here with some Meyer lemon juice, a bit of grapefruit juice and a small amount of lime to enhance its inherent qualities, this heady lemon-lime makes for one of the finest marmalades I have ever produced
YOU need– must — buy something from Robert Lambert’s online store– if only to see if I am correct in my assessment in how gifted Lambert is. (*ahem, I am. Lambert could give Rechuitti a run for the money with his Ginger Caramel Sauce ). If you want to be on the conservative side, try a couple of the marmalades. Those will blow you away with the finesse and artistry of the mix of flavors.
Here’s the punch line: http://www.robertlambert.com/store/index.html
This is the link to the online store where you can now go and have to make some very hard choices– or burn a very large hole in your plastic. However you will know that the items you have ordered will be most thoroughly enjoyed and create an addiction to all things from Robert Lambert.
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