It was knives out on Saturday morning when I had friends over for Kick Out The Jams 2008. The name sounds like an outdoor festival dedicated to anthemic guitar-shredding, but really it was an excuse to grill some bread and slather on the fruity spreads and weird condiments that I bought overseas. (How punk, I know.) It was a chance to toast toast with some good company.
So, there was no screechy feedback or knee-wobbling guitar solos or (not-so-)fresh-out-of-retirement headline acts. The closest thing we had to a bill was this line-up:
–Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter from The Peanut Butter & Co. Sandwich Shop in New York
–Mango & Passionfruit Jam (the science-lab-like canister it comes in looks cool, but I’m not so sure about the berg of wax that floats in the jar), from La Grand Epicerie in Paris
–Peach Maple Jam from Premiere Moisson in Montreal
–Raspberry and Garlic Jelly from Union Square Greenmarket in New York
–Pear Jam from, um…. the Franklins supermarket in Newtown (just for some local representation, you know?)
-and many other screwtop breakfast surprises
Just so we wouldn’t end up sugar-glutted with thick fruit gloop, I also prepared some bruschetta-esque toppings to steady the sweet-savoury balance – a bowl of zucchini relish here, a ramekin of shiitake mushrooms in garlic and lemon there, and so on.
This is an extremely fun and unfussy way to have breakfast – just clutter a table with immensely spreadable delights, savoury toppings, bite-sized toast and let everyone launch in as necessary. If you ever try it out home, you may not need the huge bread stockpile that I thought was necessary to go with all these condiments (by the time we finished eating, there were still enough loaves to see a polygamous family through a nuclear winter). I bought bagels, fruit scones and potato and herb sourdough from the Crispy Inn in Newtown, while Tabitha rustled up some great Sonoma nut-and-seed-studded bread from the Alfalfa House Co-Op in Enmore.
The judging panel was a little 12 Angry Men-esque on which condiments were most breakfast-worthy. I was smitten with the Passionfruit and Lemon Curd from the Rocks markets – and Nathan was such a fan that his toast looked like it had a skyscraping monument of curd on top – but we were its only cheerleaders.
Will was swooning over the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter (teamed nicely with banana slices) but it was a strictly monogamous affair, and not much group love for it. Similarly, Chris and I were swept in by the Raspberry and Garlic Jelly – an ingredient pairing that sounds eye-rollingly weird, but is so freakishly perfect on a crispy slice of roast potato and bread. It hits like an underhand pop lyric – all gooey sweetness to begin with, only for the tart finish to realign your tastebuds.
The only consensus our hung-jury could reach was that the Better Than Cream Cheese Tabitha bought was clonishly indistinct from the real, vegan-unfriendly original and that the Honey with Nuts from the Perigord was too strange for anyone to feel an allegiance to.
We finished off with Lego Fruit Ice which really has no sound link with jam at all, but really was a childish excuse for me to show off the ice tray I bought from Berlin’s Legoland. Although, if I really wanted to stretch the menu segue, you could say that love for Lego is as universal as love for toast. (And you can build weird, slightly unwieldy things with both.) But really, it was just fun to plonk these colourful bricks in a teacup and get a cold summery kiss from each ice-sip.
Alfalfa House, 113 Enmore Road Enmore NSW (02) 9519 3374, www.alfalfahouse.org
Crispy Inn, 203 King Street, Newtown NSW (02) 9557 3910
La Grande Epicerie, 38, rue de Sevres, Paris France www.lagrandeepicerie.fr
Legoland Discovery Centre, Potsdamer Str. 4, Berlin Germany www.legolanddiscoverycentre.com
Premiere Moisson at Jean Talon Markets, 7075, rue Casgrain, Montreal Canada www.premieremoisson.com
The Peanut Butter & Co. Sandwich Shop, 240 Sullivan Street, Greenwich Village, New York USA
The Rocks Market, Northern end of George Street, The Rocks, Sydney