It was once the stuff of rumors, its semi-secret location passed on by word-of-mouth and shared on the Nextdoor social media site. But LaLa’s Jam Bar and Urban Farmstand has come out of the shadows.
After three years as one of Petaluma’s best-kept secrets, owner Leslie Goodrich has officially opened her jam bar and farmstand in the little yellow house at 720 East Washington St., next to Lumberjacks.
You may be thinking, “It’s just jam. What’s the big deal?”
But when done well, jam is so much more than just the ingredient holding together a PB&J sandwich. Goodrich’s flavors span the horizon, covering just about every local fruit imaginable, even mixing in an herb or spice here and there.
LaLa’s Urban Farmstand offers much more than just jam. Other locally produced products include Petaluma Toffee Co., Sonoma Spice Queen, Big Bottom Market’s Biscuit Mix, TWG BBQ sauces and rubs, Two Chicks Beef Jerky, Zoe’s salamis, and Tre Sorrelle milk and dark chocolate covered Oreos and specialty nuts.
Goodrich also makes olive oils, including one that is expertly infused with lemon flavor. Her cherry vinegar was an excellent addition to a recent pasta salad I made that needed a bit more kick, and her salted lemons have a myriad of uses.
Goodrich helped educate me on the distinctions between jams, jellies and marmalades. Jam contains pieces of fruit, jelly is strained jam with the fruit bits removed and marmalade is jam infused with the peel of the fruit, such as lemon, orange, grapefruit, and LaLa’s deliciously tart cranberry. Finally, fruit butter is a thicker jam that is more dense as it contains less moisture.
My food crew and I decided to try the roughly 50 LaLa’s jams we have collected over the past year. Although I am not above eating jam straight from the jar with a spoon, we stopped in to Petaluma Market and Petaluma Creamery to select the proper accoutrements for a proper jam test.
We purchased a wide selection of crackers, including from Petaluma’s award-winning Rustic Bakery. Next came the cheeses. Thankfully, Marie Schmittroth, Petaluma Market’s excellent cheesemonger, guided us around the globe in order to select cheeses that would compliment the spread of sweet to savory jams.
We ended up with many of our local favorites, like Point Reyes Homestead’s Bay Blue, Marin French’s Brie, Achadinha’s Capricious, and Chèvre from Laura Chenel’s, along with a couple of sharp Irish cheddars and a Taleggio, a slightly less runny, more sticky Italian version of brie.
Finally, not wanting to distract from LaLa’s flavors, we purchased vanilla ice cream from Petaluma Creamery and Straus Family Creamery.
As expected, the sharp hard cheeses went great with the sweet jams, while the sweet soft cheeses paired perfectly with the savory jams and marmalades. Add in the half-dozen different cracker options and the flavor and texture combos became almost too much to comprehend.
Every jam had its advocate, with some preferring the savory to the sweet, but everyone agreed that with the right accompanying cheese and cracker, they were all excellent. Current seasonal favorites included apple, pear, cranberry, blueberry, chai seed and strawberry, carrot cake, mango lime, and a strawberry lemon verbena, drawing its lemon verbena from plants that have been growing in the yard of Goodrich’s west side home for nearly a century.