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Signs of Summer

June 20, 2018

How do you know it’s summer in the Capital Region? Things start heating up! Not just the temperature outside, but the whole food scene in general comes alive.

Sometimes that makes it challenging to capture the news of the week in just five blog posts. But this is a daily blog, so we’re going to do the best we can. And that might mean jamming a few stories together with connections that are a bit tenuous.

First things first. The summer issue of Edible Capital District is coming out soon, and chef Josh Coletto has a shot at scoring the cover. But here’s the catch. There’s a poll. So, I’m encouraging people to vote for him here.

Josh’s cover is the one with the chicken-fried chicken livers. Seriously, don’t let me down, people. Any Edible Community can feature a jar of pickles, a farmer, or baskets of tomatoes. These little fried morsels are the guilty pleasure of Trojans in summer.

But speaking of summer produce I want to give a tip of the hat to another chef on the other side of the region.

Elliott Vogel is the executive chef at Daley’s on Yates in Schenectady. Last week after the show at Proctor’s I maybe kinda sneaked into a friends and family soft opening for dessert.

I didn’t know this at the time, but more than anything else I wanted an entire dessert of the garnish that came with the key lime pie. The bar area was a bit dark, so I didn’t get a great picture of it, but the whipped cream and strawberries were fantastic!

This is no faint praise. These details are things that some of our better restaurants get wrong all the time. Whipped cream should be glossy, smooth, and form soft peaks. Strawberries should be macerated or at the very least trimmed of any white cores.

Ideally, strawberries shouldn’t need trimming, because they should only be served when they are in season… which is right now.

I mean, now!

Get out to your favorite local farm. Go! Today, if possible. This weekend at the very latest. And buy more strawberries than you think you can possibly eat. Our family of four picked up five quarts this past weekend. We weren’t jamming. Mostly these were intended for eating out of hand.

Although Mrs. Fussy has been in a baking groove recently, and made some shortcakes. So she also cut up a bunch of the strawberries, macerated them with sugar and lemon, and whipped a bit of Battenkill cream.

Man, that was delicious.

If you don’t have a favorite farm yet, we returned to the same three farms we visited for strawberry season last year. I wanted to check how the fruit was different season to season. For the most part the family’s opinion was consistent from year to year.

Even though Golden Harvest may not raise its own berries anymore, wherever the farm is getting them from does a marvelous job. These were the favorite to eat out of hand. The berries from Yonder Farms across the road were my son’s favorite, and certainly the most refreshing of the bunch. They still have a distinctive note of grape soda on the palate, which isn’t unpleasant, but it’s not quite what I’m looking for.

The Samascott berries were also very good, and not quite as firm as last year. Still, when it came time to choose which strawberries to macerate, we agreed the Samascott would benefit the most for the softening and sweetening of the process. And they were.

Today, there’s going to be an invitation only event to celebrate the grand opening of Daley’s on Yates. And this time, I will not have to sneak in. I don’t know if there will be berries and whipped cream, but a fellow can dream. Because believe it or not, but we finished all our berries in a matter of days. And this weekend we’ll be traveling. By the time we return, strawberry season in the Capital Region will likely be over.

So now. Buy them now. And buy enough so that you make yourself sick of strawberries. It’s the only way to make it through the next eleven months with those little red things masquerading as strawberries but with only a mere shadow of the aroma and flavor of actual seasonal fruit.

At least in summer, when one fruit fades, a new one is just around the corner. That’s right, raspberries. I’m talking to you.

One Comment leave one →
  1. KingOfBeacon permalink
    June 20, 2018 11:34 am

    I’m not sure strawberry season is actually over soon. There’s the later season variety from mid-August to mid-October. Much smaller but far sweeter. I dunno if its the longer period of hot summer sun or the cooler nights but they taste much better than the overhyped June varieties.

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