Indubitablement, la belle France is one of the world’s most beautiful countries. Long perceived as the Mecca of culture, splendor and sophistication, French fashion, cuisine and lifestyles have become the standard for everything haute. The City of Lights, Paris, remains one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and proudly boasts feats of architectural grandeur: the Eiffel Tower, the Arc of Triumph, the Champs-Elysées, the Notre Dame Cathedral – it is a city of exquisite splendor. Outside of the cities, particularly in the countryside, you are greeted by breathtaking beauty. Surrounded by the picturesque French countryside, you understand suddenly why so many Impressionist painters were inspired to create masterpieces based on the play of light on the scenery.
Life outside of the little villages and towns seems so unimportant when greeted by an abundance of flowers, vegetables, fruit, wine and cheeses. Everything about the countryside inspires a renewed appreciation for tremendous beauty and a lust for life. French gastronomy has long influenced many western cuisines, and the country is known for birthing some of the world’s most luscious wines and cheeses.
Eating in France is an experience in itself. The French take particular pride in their cuisine, so every bite of every meal is considered almost religious. The typical petit déjeuner (breakfast) may be simple – mostly, it consists austerely of tartans (slices) of fresh and hot French bread: either slices of warm baguette, crumbly sweet croissants, or fresh round brioches. Accompanying the bread are slices of fresh French butter and jams or jellies made from France’s famous fruit selection.
Frenchman Pierre Marmonier is familiar with this tradition. In fact, having grown up in the charming and scenic Rhone valley, Pierre’s breakfasts consisted of this bread-butter-jam formula, washed down by a bowl of hot chocolate. As such, Pierre never ate commercial jams – his mother would make a large assortment of fresh confitures from her kitchen, using the fruit that abounded in the area. Now that Monsieur Marmonier is a Frenchman in Manila, he brings that same quaint culture and delectable flavor to the Philippines with his luscious selection of Luxury Jams.
Marmonier arrived in the country seventeen years ago. He was first contacted by a tobacco company to hold office in the Philippines for three short months. He woke up one day next to his beautiful Filipina wife with three stunning children and realized that he had been in the country for seven happy years. So he decided to return to his home country with his family, but as he had developed a fondness for the Philippines, he returned after eight years. In slightly accented but perfect English, Marmonier expresses his love for the Philippines: “We like it here. We like the people, the convenience, the tropical climate.” He recommenced his stay in Manila by looking for a full time job, but after some time decided to begin Luxury Jams instead. This decision was accompanied by a childhood exposed to fresh French jams, and a frustration at the sugar content of many jams he tasted. From hotels to supermarket counters to gift shops, Marmonier never found that taste of home. So he began to experiment with Filipino fruit, which is in as much abundance as in his hometown.
Two years hence, Marmonier has a large selection of French-inspired jams with only Filipino ingredients. Each jam, which boasts a shelf life of ten to twelve months, contains only cane sugar as the preserving ingredient and up to 60% of fresh fruit – a standard that holds with French confitures, classifying Marmonier’s selections as true luxury jams. No additives or preservatives are used in the preparation of each jam.
Marmonier began selling his jams at bazaars, but was quickly contacted by the Peninsula and New World hotels, which not only bought his current selection but also worked alongside him to develop new flavors. Since then, Marmonier has expanded his distribution to many hotels and gift shops including the Dusit Thani hotel; Paris Delice, the French patisserie along Makati Avenue; the Market Deli in Salcedo Village; Bacchus Epicerie in Power Plant Mall in Rockwell; and Ritual in the popular Collective, which holds office along Malugay street in San Antonio Village. As a matter of fact, a lot of the fresh jams in many upscale hotels in Manila come from Marmonier, who is happy to develop new flavors for his clientele.
Nevertheless, his selection of Luxury Jams is real French inspiration with local ingredients. He explains what differentiates him from other jam makers out there: he takes typical French concoctions and transposes them to the local flavor in an interesting Filipino-French fusion. In each jam, the fruit flavor comes out more than the sugar, making the ingredients the main star of the confiture. Take for instance his mango jams: he has six variations using mango as his base, namely mango-lime, mango-ginger, mango-lavender, mango-white chocolate, mango-vanilla and mango with spices. Add on to this admirable selection Marmonier’s other delicious experiments, spanning a strawberry collection, pineapple collection, and citrus collection: pineapple coco rum, strawberry banana and lychee berry rose. As a matter of fact, Marmonier is selling a boxed set of Luxury Jams specifically for the holiday season: his golden Four Seasons contains guyabano, orange, mango and pineapple, and is packaged beautifully and tastefully alongside his maroon Winter Cocktail, which is an exquisite combination of blueberries, papaya, oranges and mangoes. Winter Cocktail and Four Seasons come in gorgeous wave shaped glass bottles and in a box that is so reminiscent of true French class, and is a perfect gift to bring along to all those holiday house parties.
This Frenchman in Manila has characteristic French dignity as he speaks of the culture that he grew up in: it was an interesting amalgam of sophistication in the gorgeous quaint countryside, the simplicity of home cooking mixed in with the distinctive French care and complexity. Completely enamored with the Philippines, Pierre Marmonier has never forgotten his roots – but combines it with the love that he has developed for the country that brought him his wife and children.
For inquiries, log on to www.thefruitgarden.net or email [email protected]. You can also find Luxury Jams boxed sets at the Rockwell Bakers Fare starting every weekend in October, and at the Sunday morning Legazpi market. Pierre Marmonier is also available for industrial orders and product development.