Ps. This is my 600th post, wordpress tells me.
I’m pretty convinced strawberries should not travel. The ones we get from afar out of season can taste vaguely of strawberry – although they look the part, and the ones that you can grow here can look pretty funny, but can be heady, floral, and seductive like a beautiful wine. And last I checked, I dig heady, floral, and seductive, whether in wine, fruit or not.
My ex-lawn, as I like to call it, now produces awesome strawberries. But not enough. Not yet. Until the strawberries take a serious foothold in the ground cover layer of my front-yard fruit garden, I’m going to need to supplement with local fruit if I have any intention of making jam. Which I do. Or cooked strawberries on scones with whipped cream. Which I want to make on my birthday.
My scrutiny in farm choice was based on which was easiest and quickest to drive to. Discriminating, I know. We’d been to another a while back and wanted to return, but based on the termination of its website, I wasn’t willing to take the risk that a long drive may end in upset. I have a wife and two toddler girls. I don’t need upset. So a google search later, we were off to South Windermere Gardens.
The lowdown? $3.50 a pound. Easy to find from the Henday. Everything went smoothly, and I’d go again. Until my strawberries up their production that is. Because really, $3.50 a pound is expensive when you can grow it yourself, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I completely think the farmers are justified to charge that given the cost of overhead, land, and labor. But strawberries grow happily here, and self propagate prodigiously. The strawberries they grow must be related to what I grow in my garden, as the size, shape, growing habits, and flavor seem to be very alike – so no gain in quality per se, other than their fruit being more ripe, as we tend to raid ours a tad sooner than perhaps we should. On the upside, our enthusiasm keeps us from losing a sad proportion to rot as they do.
These folks are not new to the business – they’ve farmed this piece of land for roughly a decade – and they came from the same background elsewhere in the province. They’re passionate about the health benefits of consuming natural sugars, and are eager to tell you about numerous uses for their lovely fruit. If you lack a full-on strawberry patch, do give these folks a visit. Call before you go to get an update on fruit availability, hours and directions are on their website, and it seems mid-week at opening time would be optimal to hit them up.
I’ve even got a quicky vid of our visit to give you an idea of what it’s like. Before you get up in my grill, they told me to wash them very briefly in cold water, and I froze a bunch for making jam later. When I feel like it. We kept the rest to enjoy fresh in all their seasonal glory. Which btw, is longer than I’d have guessed – September you could be upicking, which seems like a great time if your jamming/canning.
Over the past few years I’ve watched a few hundred episodes of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV, and am a regular commenter there. Recently, I’ve been enamored with Daniel Klein’s ‘Perennial Plate‘ project about eating locally in Minnesota. So recently I had a bit of a ‘duh…’ moment, realizing that I had the gear to do some video blogging myself, and really should be using it as I really enjoy the nature of video for blogging purposes. So meet Kevin TV. I intend on keeping it a tad ghetto, one-take-esque, and uncontrived. We’ll see how it evolves. I’m especially excited about the video format come harvest and hunting season, and for farm visits.
This one is a simple mid-July garden tour of my recent ex-lawn. I intend on following it once a season over the next few years.
At the moment, in my mind, these bad boys take top spot at proving how shitty and dumbed down imported-out-of-season-food can be. Fresh strawberries from a plant that was actually bred to produce tasty strawberries, kick ass. If they were a wine, I’d score them 95+ while the crap-styrofoamy-immitation strawberries we get from abroad [no offense, cali-foilks, but the strawberries they ship here in the winter suck] would score down in the 55-75 range. The gap is that large. Perhaps the biggest gap in flavor intensity and quality between seasonal/local and imported/out-of-season that I can think of. If you can one-up me here, give ‘er.
As an aside. Most folks know wild strawberries rock, and their concentration of flavor is insane. Last year I yoinked a bunch of wild plants from a local field, and transplanted them in my garden. They are freaking out they’re so happy – with space, less competition, and water. They’re also producing teenie strawberry gems, and propagating like rabbits all over the ground – which is fine by me. Jury is still out on whether they are that much better in flavor to make up for their significantly smaller size. I’m gonna guess no. The tasty-bred-big-guys are truly awesome.
Today we went on a culinary adventure to Parkberry Fields. Where have they been all my life?!? We picked 3 pails of wicked, fragrant, super-ripe strawberries in 15-25 minutes – and that was slow because Evelyne wasn’t picking very fast. Yes. A joke. Hah.
We kept a few for fresh, and man do they make the ‘store-variety’ look like crap. The rest were cooked down with vanilla sugar, some going into the freezer, some into some strawberry ice cream I’m churning as I write, and lots into smoothies, on goat cheese – and any other way we can think to enjoy perfect strawberries over the next couple weeks.
I will be back to this berry farm. It’s fun, the product is amazing, and I’m keen to try both their black currants and evans cherries for sauces for game and duck in the fall. Ah. Food.