Shuksan strawberries, the best berries on earth
Imagine the best berry you’ve ever tasted. Then magnify that experience by ten, and you’ll have an approximation of just how lovely these Shuksan strawberries really are.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to join a group of chefs and food writers for a outing to La Connor, where Jon Rowley led a talk on umami. For him, umami is not the coined-in-the-70s definition of MSG, or “fifth taste”, but the classical Japanese definition loosely translated as “beautiful taste”, or the highest potential a particular ingredient can reach. And for him, Shuksan strawberries, these craggly, ruffle-collared strawberries with a 3-week season, and a highly perishable 24 hour shelf-life, were it.
Each plump, soft berry is red to the core, with a slight minerality in the sweetness that makes them ever the more complex. These berries collapse on your tongue with a plush, velvety texture for an utterly sensual experience. Their full, round flavor expands in your mouth until it renders you speechless, until you’re left wondering: “If this is a strawberry, what have I been eating all my life?”
We picked flats of berries with one of the farmers, Chris, who had been up since 4am with the other strawberry pickers. They had hundreds of flats to pick and deliver by 6am. The berries are never picked the night before and left to sit overnight, oh no. These strawberries deteriorate at much too rapid a rate. Indeed, the some of the berries we tried to hold over at room temperature for 36 hours, so our friends could taste them, were garbage. (But, most were salvageable, and frozen for future pies. If we had tried to keep them just one more night, I have a feeling most of them would have been destined for the garbage bin.)
My gorgeous bounty
I wanted to thank Traca for putting together such an incredibly memorable expedition, and also Jon and Kate, two lovely people who took time out of their days to satisfy our curiosities. I am also deeply indebted to the Chris for opening up his uncle’s farm to us, and to the wonderful, food-loving group of people with whom I savored the ultimate strawberries.
Posted: June 21st, 2009 under Uncategorized.