Oregon is well known as a fruit, especially berry-producing place. I am sorry to say for my friends in locations where more typically produced berries exist, but Oregon berries really are the best. For one, they are typically red all the way through. Secondly, they almost always have tender skins that get mushed easily which makes them nearly impossible to transport (believe me, I tried, carrying them by hand on a flight to San Francisco, but they looked pretty weary at arrival — still tasted marvelous!). They are often smaller than the “show” berries of the supermarket and can be a little bumpy or shaped oddly. The taste is out of this world.
Many summers I have purchased and devoured berries and tried various varieties. I’ve made cakes, jams, and other tasty treats. For some reason, THIS year, I thought I had missed the season. I panicked, a little. Somewhere in my body, I must have known that this year, more than previous years, I needed the goods. The stuff. The Oregon love packed into little nuggets of pink, red, and sometimes crimson goodness.
I’m getting ready for week 3 where each week equals a flat of strawberries — 12 pints! I’ve been a little generous in sharing them, but I’ve got to admit I’ve eaten my share. I’ve been doing all I can to revel in the short season, knowing they will soon be replaced by other wonderful things, but gone nonetheless. Strawberries aren’t even my favorite fruit. This year, I cannot get enough.
I’ve eaten them on bagels.
I’ve eaten them on salads.
I’ve eaten them on french toast (I had stale bread. What choice did I have?!)
I made “mock sangria” by floating them in a sweet, slightly fizzy white wine.
I’ve just eaten them straight. Often. Lots.
After week one’s eating them mostly fresh, I started comparing. Were week one’s Seascape berries better or worse than week two’s Hoods and Valley Reds? What about the Tillamook variety?
Initial taste test: Hood for most berry flavor, then Seascape and Tillamook and finally Valley Red. But then you get a special Valley Red (maybe every 4-5 berries) and the flavor is unbelievable!! Top of the list if you could get it in each berry, plus the color is deep, dark, gorgeous.
I started making things. Week two brought a strawberry syrup for making sodas with fizzy water, but it also became a sauce for more fresh berries over plain yogurt.
I made a wonderful strawberry upside down cake that came from http://www.purewow.com/entry_detail/recipe/10436/Fresh-strawberry-upside-down-cake.htm.
Who knows what week three will bring? Maybe a strawberry-olive oil-balsamic cake found on Food 52’s site. Maybe an adventurous and complicated Strawberry Mousse cake found on Martha Stewart’s site.
Likely, more bagels, yogurt, salads and straight. Straight, simple, indulgent goodness. Oregon love!