Secretly, I was hoping for a box of artisan chocolates when I met with Bill Sands, the sophisticated entrepreneur who established Marble Hill Chocolatier in 2005.
Once voted "Best of City" and featured in many local newspapers and television and radio shows, Marble Hill Chocolatier was known for its artisan approach to guilty pleasures, hosting wine and chocolate tasting events throughout the city.
I can almost guarantee that you would find me nestled in a place like this, sipping Prosecco with half a chocolate truffle between my fingertips and half tantalizing my tastebuds. Unfortunately, the O’Bryonville boutique closed its doors in 2008.
It was during this brief hiatus that the New York native focused on conjuring up the next phase of Marble Hill.
And that next phase is now!
Sands rings in the New Year under the name Marble Hill Provisions, featuring a line of artisan jams, marmalades, relishes and pickles, all of which maintain the esteemed reputation of past creations. Marble Hill Provisions jams and marmalades feature all-natural and never frozen fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. And those jams and marmalades are all handcrafted in copper kettles with proven micro-batch methods to ensure the finest taste profiles and concentrated flavor.
"We pride ourselves in producing delicious, healthy and flavorful foods using farm fresh seasonal produce to capture the essence of nature’s bounty for your enjoyment year round." Sands says. "Our company is out to change the way people eat and think about food."
So how does a chocolatier get into creating artisan jams, you ask?
"We’ve always envisioned ourselves being a specialty food provider. Chocolate just happened to be our first product, but where we started is not necessarily where we will end up. Ideally, I’d like to branch out into baked goods, sauces, glazes and other pickled veggies," Sands says.
Now, let’s take a step back to the chocolate I was secretly desiring when I met Sands. Well, I quickly got over my loss when he handed me three jars of his new product: Quince Cranberry Jam, Cranberry Ginger Relish and a tangy Cucumber Bell Pepper Sweet Relish.
I shared my new gift with the baristi at Red Tree Coffee Shop in Oakley and oozed over the thick, chunky, flavors of natural cranberry on whole wheat bread. At home, my husband and I tried the Cranberry Ginger relish on a peanut butter sandwich, and the combination was salty, tangy perfection — a flavorful alternative to the uber sugary, mass-produced preservatives I’ve tried before.
Sands recommends spooning the Cranberry Ginger relish over baked brie. Additionally, the Cucumber Bell Pepper relish will make any hotdog or bratwurst taste gourmet.
Current seasonal flavors include: fig, pear, red grapefruit, cranberry orange, Meyer lemon, kumquat and Strawberry Espresso (which is specially made for Coffee Emporium).
You can support this local business and its fresh and delicious product by purchasing at the following local stores:
Visit Marble Hill Provisions on Facebook and learn about the latest flavors, find out where to find their products in stores and get recipe recommendations.
For more on the differences between jam, jelly, marmalade and relish, visit my blog at CorkStories.wordpress.com.
Photos courtesy of Terrah Kocher