“The strawberry underneath the nettle;/And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best/Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality.”Shakespeare, King Henry V. Act I. Scene I.
Fragrant, plump, and juicy, strawberries are the epitome of spring. Conjuring romance, whether served chocolate-covered or with champagne, they are practically everyone's favorite berry. And curiously, this fruit is a member of the rose family. Varieties range from Albion, a Californian variety with a longer growing season, to Mieze Schindler, a classic German variety, which are plump and heart-shaped.
Strawberries are highly perishable and unlike a banana, do not continue to ripen once they are picked. Choose berries with a bright sheen and even red color, which depending on the variety, can range from light to dark red. Look for unwilted green leaves and be sure to avoid white shoulders or seedy tips. Strawberries actually taste best at room temperature. So try to remove them from the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to enjoy them. To really bring out their flavor, try them with a dash of balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, or orange juice. Arrange atop a pavlova, the dessert created to honor Anna Pavlova, the amazing Russian ballerina, who first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926. We love them just as much in a pie, on shortcake, as jam, or in a smoothie.
In the background of his triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, early Netherlandish painter, Hieronymus Bosch, depicts strawberries prominently. At one turn, a small group encircles and elevates the fruit while off to the side, a singular man greedily hovers over the berry, absorbed and enchanted without a thought to share. Here, the strawberry symbolizes the ephemeral, the transient nature of earthly pleasures.
Don’t miss the strawberry at the peak of their season on our May menu.