Sunday, June 06, 2010

Strawberry Fields and Salad Days at Restoration Farm

Despite the song lyric, strawberry fields are not forever. In several weeks, the plush red conical berries will be a memory, but at the moment, they are ripe for the picking at Restoration Farm.

I’ve been traveling, so I haven’t yet had a chance to taste the first fruits from the farm. The morning air is warm and sweet. I meet head grower Dan Holmes bumping along in the truck as I am walking down the path to the farm.

“Are you here for berries?” he asks. “There are bunches!”

I get to the “Sweet Field” and spend time filling a couple of containers. The strawberry plants lie low to the ground adorned with sparkling, juicy fruit. You have to forage around a bit, but underneath, there are plenty of firm, fat, lip-stick red berries. Soon, my fingers are stained a flattering shade of deep pink.

The beauty of fresh-picked berries is that they are already close to perfection and require so little manipulation. Nature and the farmer have done the work already to assure sweetness and flavor.

And, the blackberry bushes are covered in delicate lavender blossoms, a sign of the berries still ahead this summer.

It is also the first distribution of the season, and the start of my third season as a member of a CSA. People wonder if supporting local food is practical, economical or if the produce tastes any different. Yes, to all of the above. The produce from Restoration Farm will provide most of my food well into the autumn.

It has been a very long winter and it is a delicious homecoming. The “salad days” have returned at Restoration Farm, and I am just a bit cockeyed with glee. Head Grower Caroline Fanning is smiling. While I’ve noted that the farmers are reluctant to predict too far ahead, she thinks it is the start of a “good season.” The tender leaves are everywhere. Dan and Caroline and the volunteers have harvested red lettuce, green lettuce, spinach, arugula and mizuna.

I celebrate the start of Restoration Farm’s new season with the freshest of meals from the field – light, sweet, crisp and brilliant in color – a salad of many greens, Capatano Dairy Farmstead Gouda goat cheese, strawberries drizzled with balsamic syrup, and a bright glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The strawberries are tart and juicy, and the greens peppery and herbaceous. It’s pretty heavenly. (As I planned this first meal from the farm, look what my friend Julia at the blog “Grow, Cook, Eat” was putting together!)

As Barbara at the blog “Chez Aurora” has put it so well, “Green thumbs up!”
©2010 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Fresh Local and Best said...

This post gets me quite excited. I like the way you described this food requiring little manipulation. There are so many advantages to being part of a CSA, and more so given your involvement.

Strawberries over a salad with fine buttery goat cheese and balsamic syrup is one of my favorite summer treats.

~~louise~~ said...

Happy Sunday, T.W. Those strawberries look luscious. Sheer perfection!

I adore fresh picked strawberries sprinkled with balsamic syrup. Perhaps more than New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc...It's a toss up:)

I hope you enjoyed your delectable meal. It looks heavenly.

Thanks for sharing...

My Carolina Kitchen said...

T.W., I remember picking strawberries as a child in my grandmother's garden. Many more went in my mouth than in my basket.

Those salad greens are gorgeous. I know your salad must have been fabulous with the freshly picked strawberries and greens, the Gouda goat cheese and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Happy days are here again.

Julia said...

Your salad looks wonderful! And I love the addition of gouda goat cheese. I think I have enough berries that I could also do that tonight.

Are you doing chocolate molten cake with minted berries next?

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Christine - I had never used stawberries in a salad entre before. I'm hooked!

Good morning, Louise! The wine went so good with the strawberries, that I'm sure there's a way to combine the two!

Hi Sam - would you believe I have never picked strawberries by hand until this visit to the farm? I'm not sure why. How lovely it would be to have a patch in the yard, but for now, this patch is mine!

Julia - I had a baking project all planned, but after I'd blanched the kale and chard, and prepped rhubarb and some strawberries for freezing, there wasn't much time left! Maybe next weekend ...

Kalyn said...

Wow, all of that produce looks just wonderful. So far I haven't had anything but herbs from my garden; nice to get an early start on the fresh produce!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

My garden only has the tiny strawberries planted -- just enough for our grandkids to pick one every now and then. We have good soil for strawberries, though, and when I see photos like this, I feel that I should plant some of the full-size berries. Maybe next year.

Barbara said...

Wow,this is so exciting, the first pick up! What a great job they do at the farm. Those greens look really amazing ... & the strawberries with Catapano's gouda cheese sounds heavenly ... Bon appetit!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

I know that you saw in my blog that my horse is on a new ranch. I have the sheer pleasure of driving along an 11 mile stretch of unadulterated farm land! Strawberry fields forever, I tell you! I just posted some strawberry recipes, but on the sweeter side. This salad is perfection and such a tribute to CSA's and farm fresh and organic produce. I am so spoiled, and so happy that it's summer and I can enjoy my fill. People who shop for processed food have no idea what they are missing. Have fun! I always look forward to seeing what you prepare from your Restoration Farm!

veron said...

I've never gone strawberry picking. Those look gorgeous and I do love them in salad!

tasteofbeirut said...

Sounds all so good; never heard of mizuna and never tasted a smoked gouda goat cheese; both sounds intriguing; love your meal, hey, that;s what I would fix too, except I would also whip some cream and eat a big bowl of strawberries and crème chantilly.

Sophie said...

Waw,..all of the produce look very fresh & so tasty! Yummm!

that salad with the strawberries is a lovely salad that I love!

MMMMMMMMMMMM,...!!!Have a great week!

lostpastremembered said...

I just love those strawberries... got some brilliant little ones in Union Square this weekend.. they are the first breath of summer. Good for you to laud the farmers... where would be be without them! Balsamic and pepper for me!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Bunches of berries just waiting for you? Life doesn't get much sweeter, does it? Thanks for sharing another delightful culinary trip with us.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Kalyn - I'm very lucky to have this membership.

Lydia - I guess these are full size, but still not huge - just firm and very flavorful.

Barbara - I'm very impressed with how good everything looks at pickup. They really know how to get you excited about the food.

Debby - Fresh strawberries are one of the best gifts of life!

Veron - I highly recommend it!

TOB - the creme chantilly is for next weekend!

Sophie - I'm ready to head back for more!

Lost Past - You're right about pepper - I'm going to add that next time.

Hi Susan - that hour or so in the berry patch carried me through a long week!