June 8, 2010

BEDFORD RECORD-REVIEW / "Talk of the Town" -- June 8, 2010


When thinking about blood oranges and lemons, no one else but Margery Schiffman, creator of The Conant Valley Jam Company, could envision it as marmalade. Other great tastes in her artisanal line of jams, jellies, marmalades and chutneys include Bosc or Anjour pear jam, plum or cranberry and apply chutney, all handmade in small batches with local fruits from the Hudson Valley. They contain no preservatives, artificial color or chemical stabilizers, and fruit pectin is used only for canning. The result is lovingly created, out-of-this world delectables like Meyer Lemon and Sicilian Blood Orange Marmalade, Bosc or Anjou Pear jam, Plum or Cranberry and Apple Chutney, which all go exceptionally well with meats and fowl, a shmear of goat cheese, or, okay, let’s admit it, on a “gourmet” peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “I started making Mirabelle plum jam when I lived in Napa,” said Margery, who knows where to handpick the best wild raspberries from Bedford to Ridgefield. She continues to experiment with the fruit-to-sugar ratio in her jams, and tries to cut the sugar content back to the lowest possible level so that everything is more fruit than sugar. Husband Chuck Dorris, a Web designer and photographer, likes jamming with his wife, “I follow her instruction … and quite exactly,” he said. “Margery figures everything out and I do the prep work.” It’s a week-long process to make it to market every Sunday. Low production, careful hand- preparation and recipes adapted to each batch creates sweetness and ripeness that is “remarkable for clarity of taste and intensity of flavor,” said Chuck. The Conant Valley Jam Company has a stand at the Scotts Corners Farmers Market in front of Antiques & Tools of Business & Kitchen on Westchester Avenue, every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Try the Fresh Organic Strawberry Jam (first of the season). You can also order at www.conantyvalleyjams.com or by calling 533-5181.

We salute Dr. John Quagliarello for his generosity of time, expertise and goodness to help women in need in Jacmel, Haiti. As a renowned OB/GYN, Dr. Q’s recent medical mission was on behalf of Angel Wings International (www.angelwingsinternational.com), an organization led by highly qualified U.S.-trained medical professionals who make an enormous difference in the lives of those who continue to suffer in earthquake stricken Haiti. To see Dr. Q’s mission, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfAUyLcx7ZU. We are grateful, and proud, to those of all ages in Pound Ridge, who are organizing efforts to answer the call for humanitarian aid.

Actor Johnny Ferro has made another striking appearance on the silver screen in “Children of God,” which was chosen as the opening night film of the Bahamas International Film Festival. The story takes place on an idyllic Bahamian island and is about the self-discovery of two very different people seeking escape. Jacob Burn’s Film Center hosted a special screening of the magnificent award-wining film last week, followed by a Q&A with Johnny and director Kareem Mortimer. To be an official member of the Johnny Ferro Fan Club, don’t wait a second more by going to www.johnnyferro.com. See what all the Twitter is about.

Other artists in our midst include Michelle Gage. From 100 applicants, Michelle was one of eight winners selected by Westport Arts Center (WAC) to exhibit her work at the upcoming exhibition, SOLOS. "The pieces that were chosen were works of art that are engaging, fresh, and authentic, said Helen Klisser, WAC director of visual arts. “Each artist selected for the exhibition has a distinct voice in style and choice of medium.” For information, call 203-222-7070 or visit www.westportartscenter.org.

In closing, I’d like to introduce you to Ellen Best, my new co-columnist for “Talk of the Town.” Ellen is a longtime writer for The Record-Review, knows the beat, and is eager to hear your news. We will be alternating one month me, one month Ellen, one month me … you get the idea. Ellen is literally, and figuratively, the Best. Please continue to send us great leads and story ideas to towntalk@optonline.net.

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