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Exploring and critiquing Calgary food through the eyes of three dysfunctional engineers
A couple weekends ago was pretty exciting in This Sh*t’s Delicious’ brief but action-packed history. Rita, who is one of the founding partners of JM, wanted us to come over and have a chat with her. She was so pleased with our detailed and thorough review of JM that she wanted to meet us in person and talk about some of the issues that we had brought up in our previous blog post.
Yeah, shit just got real, cckskrs.
Richard and I couldn’t say no to such an offer (to say the least), so we headed on down there bright and early on Saturday morning at 11 am. It was a busy morning as usual for Rita who immediately spotted us and introduced us to her husband, Murray, who is the other business partner.
Rita and Murray are a very interesting couple. Both are former teachers turned lawyers turned entrepreneurs (Murray is still a lawyer by day). In my previous entry, I had mentioned that they have no formal culinary training, but I realized that it is a moot point considering the impressive resume they boast. For instance, they founded the Opa! chain of Greek fast food before selling it off in 1999 (?) to focus on other endeavours. They also apparently wholly own Original Joe’s and St. Germain and partly own the Calgary institution known as Peter’s Drive-in (WTF!). To say that this power couple knows a little bit about the food industry is an understatement.
We had some interesting discussions surrounding the ordering system. The current system involves ordering to the left of the doughnut counter and paying for it later to the right of the doughnut counter. The orders are synced between the two different sides via iPads, which is pretty novel. We thought this system is pretty efficient as it prevents customers already in line from waiting for the eponymous douchebag to enter his debit card pin five times before finally giving up (you know you have been there). The only suggestion for improvement I had was to perhaps give the patrons numbers. The JM staff would then announce the numbers so the patrons wouldn’t have to hang around the counters waiting for their orders to be filled and called out (though to be fair they already take your name, which adds a personal touch -Richard). This would reduce the chaos and clutter somewhat.
Another thing that Richard had noticed was the use of wax cardboard boxes to serve doughnuts regardless whether one was staying in or not. Turns out that the boxes were for take-away and that the bamboo serving trays that had been originally ordered had been delayed. Now that they were here, all stay-in doughnut lovers get their orders served on these bamboo trays.
But…we weren’t there to just chit chat. We actually managed to try out the Chef’s Creation for that day which was inspired by Eton Mess (a traditional English dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue, and cream). Murray was also kind enough to make us both a cup of what he called a high-test – a shot of espresso topped up with drip coffee.
The doughnut itself was extremely light and melted in your mouth with every bite. The cream, which reminded be of the cream in a Boston Cream, was light, fluffy, and fresh. All in all, the different elements of the doughnut combined perfectly to give you an explosion of taste in your mouth.
I took my time savouring each bite of the doughnut and downing it with the coffee/espresso combination. The latter was bold, but balanced, without too much acidity. Murray takes pride in his coffee creations, and although he wouldn’t outright admit it, we could tell he was a slightly affronted when I reported the espresso as being “unmemorable” in our first review of JM.
It was pretty cool to sit down and get a glimpse of the minds behind Jelly Modern. Both Rita and Murray seemed pretty easygoing, but you could also tell that they were passionate about the business and were always looking for ways to make it even better. They’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that they make a quality doughnut, from soliciting the expertise of doughnut experts from the USA to poaching the chef of St. Germain to head their kitchen (who apparently took the opportunity to be more creative and get back to his pastry-chef roots). They’ve done a lot to make the business progressive on the environmental and societal fronts – from selecting their fruit for filling from environmentally-friendly sources to donating their unsold product at the end of the day to local establishments feeding the needy. They really put the Modern into Jelly Modern (as well as the Jelly, of course!).
On to the doughnuts – we were able to sample the mini doughnuts (Stampede-style, but even more delicious) as well as the Saturday special (the Eton Mess), which was absolutely divine. The chef also let us know about the various creations that he has in store for the future – doughnut sandwiches, shortcakes, fan creations, and future chef specials (I hope I didn’t miss Pineapple upside-down cake week!).
It was an awesome start to an awesome weekend for Richard and myself. JM has been hot since day one and the buzz shows no signs of abating. Apparently, Breakfast Television (BT) has already broadcast an airing from the JM store. They have already been covered by the big media outlets, so it was humbling to to be invited by JM owners personally to their store. It’s good to see that they care about the little guys too and pay attention to the local blogosphere.