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Strawberries and Humanity

June 19, 2017

Someday I’ll remember to stay off Twitter. International media vehicles like The Economist don’t have the bandwidth to be able to report on every individual tragedy around the world. And more importantly, the magazine only publishes letters to the editor which contain substance and worth.

So while you may read contrarian view of the narrative suggested by the magazine, you won’t find such callous regard for humanity as you might on the interwebs. My heart goes out to all of those communities in pain who have recently suffered terrible losses all over the world.

Look. All of humanity is an unlikely development. In the grand movie of geological time we’re barely a flicker on the screen. Our planet itself is little more than a speck of dust floating in the vast emptiness of the universe.

The only answer is to try and work together. To recognize our sameness. Reject those who try to divide us. And oppose violence in all of its forms. Right now, the last thing I want to do is minimize anyone’s suffering, ignore their cries for justice, or be blind to their struggles.

But as I’ve needed to say time and time again over the past few years, this is a food blog. And as long as I’ve already touched on the fragility of life and the seeming capriciousness of our existence, I might as well segue into some further thoughts on strawberries.

Life is painful. That’s a fact. But it’s also speckled with joyful moments.

I got to laugh a lot at the Dave Hill show last Saturday. He had a hysterical bit early in the set about being asked if he was going to be flying with an infant on his lap. I’d never seen Ethan Ullman perform either, and that was a real treat. He cracked me up with tales of a date from hell.

Before the show, I popped into the Yawning Duck pop up in Troy and finally got to meet Dominic Colose and his daughter. That was truly a pleasure. I don’t know much about doner kebabs, but his mix of lamb and eggplant was certainly tasty.

Plus, I always seem to meet new and interesting people when I sit down at Rare Form.

For good measure I went to Superior Merchandise Co. for a shot of espresso. Then when I got to the theater in Albany, I slipped into The Hollow for a glass of Grimm Ales’ Cloudbusting. When I got home, I popped open a can of Grimm’s double dry hopped Tesseract that I was gifted by a very generous friend. And I drank it while catching up on The Blacklist, which I’m loving.

It’s truly a blessing to have so much joy.

So I can’t complain too loudly that on Father’s Day I forgot that Gene’s Fish Fry is closed on Sundays. It was really just a place to stop for some food before doing the serious business of the day which was strawberry hunting.

Do you want to talk about the fragility of ethereal nature of joy? Strawberries seem like a fitting metaphor.

The season is incredibly short. And not all strawberries are created equal. Not even in the same quart from the same farm. The sad truth of the matter is that I have been avoiding local strawberries almost entirely, because the ones I’ve had in the past have paled in comparison to what’s readily available in California from the local farmers markets.

Then I got a hot tip on Facebook.

I was told from someone who works in the food business that he swears by the strawberries in Kinderhook from the farm stand just north of Golden Harvest. So, that’s where I went. But as long as I was going to be on the Route 9 Kinderhook and Valatie corridor, I was going to pick up a few other things.

Cider donuts from Golden Harvest.
Spirits from Harvest Spirits.
Ice cream from Samascott.

Two of those three things were easy for the kids to get behind on Father’s Day. And they were very patient as I went into the distillery, caught up a bit with Derek, and bought a bottle of his new John Henry single malt formulation, and a bottle of the pear eau de vie. More on those later.

The blueberry ice cream from Samascott made with the farm’s own blueberries is fantastic.

Strawberries came from Golden Harvest, Samascott, and that third recommended farm stand turned out to be Yonder Farms. Yes, the same Yonder Farms as the Cider Mill place on New Karner. Who knew?

So after a late spring dinner of dried Chester’s sausages, cold spreads, smoked cheese, charred green onions, radish slaw, and toast, it was time for the strawberry showdown.

Mrs. Fussy enjoyed the Samascott ones the most. They had great depth of flavor, a deep red color, but were also surprisingly firm.

Most everyone else chose the berries purchased from Golden Harvest as their top pick. Soft and juicy, with many berries showing red through to the core, these had a traditional strawberry flavor profile, if perhaps not quite as intense.

Yonder Farms was notable for its difference. The unique flavor of these berries totally stood out. At first, I was disarmed by what I thought was a much more floral strawberry. But as I ate more and more, I was able to hone closer into a description of what I was tasting.

By the end, it was unmistakably the same flavor profile as grape soda. Talk about unlikely, I know. But it’s true. Mrs. Fussy will confirm it.

Having posted a picture of my strawberry bounty to another corner of the interwebs, I was offered a different lead for finding the berries that I seek. Maybe one of you might corroborate the claim that a place called Swartz Dairy & Produce in Castleton has some strawberries worth seeking out.

Even if they do, the time is getting short. Strawberry season is almost done. So get out there. And get some joy in your life. Every little bit helps.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2017 9:54 am

    The ones I bought at George’s on 155 last week were amazing!!! I forgot to ask where he got them. Agree: others I’ve bought the last few weeks – all local – weren’t as good. Snitch one before you buy. (:

  2. June 21, 2017 1:22 pm

    I went to pick strawberries at Samascott on Saturday morning. This is normally an activity that I hate, and I only go along to be a good husband — but this year was different. The fruit was so large and abundant that it was a pleasure. Even after making jam we had plenty left over; a big bowl of strawberries with lunch is a great joy.

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