There's nothing quite like freshly picked strawberries, just minutes out of the farm field where they've been grown and harvested, warm, sun-kissed, plump and juicy, and eaten at the very inflection point of their ripeness, when mere moments later they might be, in fact, overripe.
While I am an admirer of the beautiful Driscoll's brand of ruby red, gigantic strawberries astonishingly available throughout the calendar year in many supermarkets (how do they do it?), there is a very short spell--no more than several weeks--in June when the shelves at the local farm stands near Darlington groan under the weight of the juiciest, plumpest, most delectable, locally grown strawberries imaginable that unmask the hybridized ones in supermarkets for what they truly are: mere cardboard shadows of the "real thing," no matter how pretty they might be. When I eat our locally grown, freshly picked farm stand strawberries in June, I find myself pausing and saying, "Oh, right, that's it. That's what a strawberry really is."
This past weekend saw the much-anticipated appearance of strawberries at Holmquest Farms, our favorite nearby farm stand, much to the delight of members of the Darlington household (Pompey included) and our weekend guests. And I must say that this year's bumper crop is one of the best in recent memory, having benefitted from several sultry spells this spring of unseasonably warm and sunny weather.
Perfection, thy name is country farm stand strawberry.
We bought our first batch of strawberries on Saturday and served them alongside a cloud of heavenly coconut cake at a dinner party we hosted that evening in honor of our visiting house guests, all of us giddy with pleasure, each spoon- and forkful a revelation of joy.
After our guests departed Monday morning, Boy consoled himself with another trip to Holmquest Farms to pick up yet another basket of just-picked, luscious strawberries just for us. He said that he felt fortunate that he was able to buy some that morning, since the strawberries were selling out to delighted customers as fast as the farm hands could reload the shelves with their bounty. That evening I prepared and served the strawberries, carefully removing their hulls to preserve as much of their juicy, succulent, and sweet fruit as possible.
And we devoured every last one of them, licking our lips and laughing with unbridled pleasure.
516 Spook Rock Road
Hudson, New York 12354
photo by Boy Fenwick