Inspired by the inventiveness of the Victorians, Catherine Piddington draws upon the culinary world and herbaceous border in her range of jams and chutneys that are nothing less than surprising.
Just like Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole, in the world of Catherine Piddington jams taste like Cornetto strawberry ice cream and Turkish delight. Hers is a world of the possible, where playful and whimsical combinations transform classic jams and marmalades with a bit of mischief. “I’m trying to find combinations that inspire a childlike glee — that mischievousness you experience when you find something special.”
Inspiration comes from her vast collection of cooking and gardening books but it is the experimental age of the Victorians that have inspired her most, even down to her packaging.
“Theirs was an age of invention. I love the style, the effervescence and the real Britishness of it. But also the satire, the fun, the colours and the design.” This same spirit of inventiveness led to her first jam experiment — classic strawberry with vanilla. “I could almost hear my brain whirring as it searched, found and heard all the ridiculous concoctions it could... “
Her current range now includes apricot and rosemary jam, plum and rose, vanilla and strawberry, plum and cardamom, and lemon and thyme marmalade. Popular ones include her plum and rose jam that tastes just like Turkish delight. “It is very rich and decadent, with a childhood sense of nostalgia that people are drawn to”. Her apricot and rosemary jam is perfect for gammon with its “amazing golden hue with real strips of rosemary running through it”.
More recent additions are her lavender marmalade (made with Seville oranges) and a lemon and thyme marmalade (“tart lemons and floral thyme“) recently showcased at the mini-Chelsea flower market Duke of York Square in May.
You can find Piddington Jams at markets throughout London including Duke of York Square. Check her website for details. You can also buy her jams on online.
Cookbooks that inspire me
My mother is my cookbook. She is an incredible cook. Her ‘go to’ cooks are Constance Spry and Hamlyns All Colour Cook Book. I’ve added The Great British Book of Baking (for its tried and test home recipes) to my repertoire. For flavour inspiration, I look to Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures; my beautiful complete copy of Mrs Beeton’s Household Management; and Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus as well as discovered and researched recipes from hundreds of years ago.
Inside my London larder, you will find …
Chocolate. Rococo Chocolate has been a favourite of mine since childhood. I love the taste of their rose and violet creams — such an indulgent treat. Montezuma’s do amazing chocolates as does Paul A. Young, who takes you on a journey with his combinations of different tastes and flavours.
What London artisans and food creative inspire you?
Bompas & Parr for their flavour-based culinary experiences that inspire the imagination. One of my favourites was their artisanal chewing gum micro-factory pop-up where you could create gum using flavours from strawberry through to wet earth and Foie gras. Genius!
Perfect day out to London
Walk through London at night — Soho, Covent Garden, Holborn or anywhere along the river and sees the lights and buildings. The city feels almost private.
London food secrets
Cider from The French House in Soho and there is a great gelato place just around the corner on Wardour Street called Snowflake. Vanilla Black just off Chancery Lane for smart and incredible vegetarian food.