“Relax, you’re in Calistoga” says the sign outside town, the north end of the Napa Valley and my new home since May. Between fruitcake wrapping and ja


“Relax, you’re in Calistoga” says the sign outside town, the north end of the Napa Valley and my new home since May. Between fruitcake wrapping and jam making I hope to do just that, take time to enjoy the coming season’s chill and welcome rain. For you patient souls it is indeed fruitcake weather -- they are well rested, and available at last!


From a customer in Hawaii: “…your fruitcakes are like treasures in my mouth, and each bite is different from the next, making me want more! The care you put into each piece of fruit can be savored with every bite. So exquisite and extraordinary!! Thank you so much for making this labor of love for us to enjoy.”

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As the renown of my fruitcakes grows, demand exceeds supply. Still I seek improvements every season—more time, more effort. Candied ginger is now stripped of its sugar coating and boiled in my aromatic White Ginger Syrup. Two years ago I started hand-cutting Brazil nuts to marble size--each is different and needs a different cut, no way around it. Since last year the glaceed red cherries get well drained and stored steeped in Blood Orange Syrup. It’s transformative.

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What sets my efforts most apart is, of course, the glorious profusion of citrus I candy--bergamot, Seville and blood orange, Rangpur lime, Buddha’s hand citron. Peel ratios fluctuate each year, some disappear entirely, providing each vintage its own nuance. This season the pure classic flavor of Lisbon lemon peel replaces Meyer lemon in the White Fruitcake. The Dark Fruitcake contains mandalo peel, a variety of pomelo, and both Dark and White, shekwasha, a rare Japanese aromatic of which I am particularly fond, but never know when I’ll get more.

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Candied Shekwasha Peels

The Winter Fruitcake remains unchanged and does not benefit from aging, but this season I’m offering a full selection of Dark and White aged cakes. For the first time I’ve managed to save some three-year-old’s -- the 2016 Dark Fruitcake is the last to contain yuzu peel. Baked pre-election in that kinder and gentler time, just imagine!

Another customer: “I came to marmalade late in life, but it’s become one of my favorite preserves. Your Calamondin marmalade, however, sets a whole new standard for me. I cannot wait to have more. The flavor is superb, ringing with the flavor of this unusual orange. You truly work magic. Thank you, Robert.”

Good news for him and for everyone: the Rare Marmalade Trio gift set is back—featuring the rare Marrakesh Limetta (the only place it will be available,) Finger Lime and beloved Calamondin Marmalades. A unique and flavor-packed experience -- lemon, lime, and orange, but they don’t get better than this!

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5 AM on a chilly Sunday morning twenty years ago I packed my pickup for my first Farmer’s Market, embarking on a journey that has lead to loyal customers from Sweden to Indonesia. What was in my truck that morning? Whole Figs in Pinot Noir, Rangpur Lime Syrup, Loquats in Spiced Sake - not a line to form crowds. For months I rarely earned my stall fee, just made my best effort and watched your face. The chocolate sauces came, 11 in all, 10 jams, 15 syrups, a dozen marmalades, pickled fruits and relishes. At its height I offered 54 products! Still I cut every label, positioned every paper disc and screwed on every lid. I still do.

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Culling products to cut this workload is a sorry job when there’s an emotional attachment to tradition, to home. Many still mourn the loss of my Grandmother’s Spiced Crab Apples; I miss them too, and I was the last to make them. What I’ve now decided is to give away the recipe, the method, the cautions. The way. If you will, bear the torch of our memories forward!


In September my last aunt died in Montana at 100 and was buried back in Wisconsin, near the beloved family farm where she was born and where my brother still lives. A terrible freak storm just weeks before had flattened much of our forest and trees in the yard, but the old house was spared. Jim insisted on what Grandma called “lunch” 60 years ago - 3 o’clock sit-down cake and caffeine, tea time, really, and as English as our blood, though they would never have said so. Once again, all 4 leaves in the dining room table, the monogrammed china, cups and saucers, seated guests from Chicago and San Diego, Colorado and Arizona sharing stories and memories.


In tasting my Raspberry Champagne Jelly, White Fruitcake, Seville Orange Marmalade, you dine with me there, as I do with Grandma Floria, who died in 1966 but still echoes loudly through our lives. I have worked to be worthy of that table, for the elevation of the everyday, and the promise, however humble in this hard world, of luxury served on a plate. In my own declining years, though I may too have 30 more, please enjoy what I yet offer. Now more than ever, share it with those you love, and perhaps, even with those you don’t. Then watch their face.

My Best To You,

Robert Lambert
October 18, 2019
Calistoga, CA