January’s First Bite

Discovery: Pump Up The Jam

Even during this era’s renewed interest in jams and all things pickled, it’s hard not to get starry-eyed when reading the list of creative goods coming out of the kitchen of Home Ec. Preserves’s Jessica Sowls. Bourbon brown-sugar peach preserves, spicy horseradish pickled cucamelons, cherry habanero jam, chive and thyme radishes.

Sowls didn’t plan on getting into the food biz. An artist and art librarian, she started selling jars of jam when the recession hit, library jobs were scarce, and she needed cash to pay her bills. “Every time I did it,” she says, “I was able to raise enough money to pay whatever bill I had.” In 2012, Home Ec. Preserves was born. The artist in her looks for ideas everywhere, like the pear tree in her neighborhood everyone else ignored. She picked the pears, took them into her kitchen, and made maple apple-pear butter and ginger-pear preserves. “That’s what inspires me most,” says Sowls. “Happening upon things that hundreds of people walk past and making something delicious out of them.”

Pinch Of Wisdom

“The sear is what lends the perfect earthiness to meats and seafood. Be sure to not crowd the pan, and finish in brown butter for a deep golden, not black, crust.”—Glenn Brown, who oversees Point on Penn and The Flatiron at the former Elbow Room location

New In Town: Liquid Gold

“We almost have to throttle back a bit,” Justin Jones says about the overnight success of his Fountain Square coffee shop, Bovaconti Coffee (1042 Virginia Ave, 317-222-1855). After opening downtown’s Georgia Street Grind in 2016, Jones decided he was ready for a new caffeine challenge, one that offers hardcore Italian espresso drinks, sodas, cookies, and chai blends like the buzzed-up Tiger Eye in the refurbished Bovaconti Jewelers building that dates back to the 1850s. Glossy new pink tile, a teal exposed ceiling, and wall-length windows brighten the room, and in warmer months, customers can retreat to the patio near the bocce-ball court to sip their Americanas. Bold modern wallpaper and tile now share space with the original exposed brick and window seats tucked into the old glass display window. Jones even wove the old store’s diamond-shaped signage into the graphic printed on the paper cups. This place is a real gem.

The Feed

’Cue Up: Featuring slow-cooked meats and handmade tortillas, Madera Tex Mex BBQ & Tap fired up its Texas-style smokers in November on East 71st Street. Road Food: Florida-based Ford’s Garage is now serving burgers and pubby comfort food in Hamilton Town Center. Queso Study: Downtown landmark Acapulco Joe’s, which closed last fall for a revamp, is back with a new owner and new menu.