I’ve never turned down a free sample. I’m shameless. I go back for seconds. I eat those stubs of hot dogs dipped in mustard at Stop & Shop, the weensy little mini-meals served in tiny paper cups at Trader Joe’s, curls of glamorous artisanal cheeses from a display of food and flowers at Balducci’s, chocolate at Garelick & Herbs, a taste of wine at my neighborhood liquor store. Especially wine, but they don’t usually let you go back for seconds and thirds.
This time I was snarking a free hunk of freshly-baked bread at Billy’s Bakery in Fairfield and a lovely young lady offered me a free spoonful of jam: strawberry-lemonade, blueberry-basil, or pineapple-kiwi. I chose the blueberry, primarily because I was intrigued by the basil, although they seem to be putting basil in a lot of things lately. I had a basil shortbread cookie last summer. Here is where the blueberry-basil jam became more than a free sample; it was the beginning of a beautiful culinary relationship.