When the days begin to get noticeably longer, we see the first strawberries of the season. For most chefs, this first sighting brings much excitement, as we no longer have only citrus to rely on for our pastry needs. While considered by many strictly a spring fruit, here in the Bay Area, the strawberry season begins in spring and runs through most of the summer. Many of the local strawberries are grown between Santa Cruz and the Salinas valley, where the coastal fog keeps the berries cool at night, even when the daytime temperatures soar. I’m always amazed to find still delicious strawberries in September as we are turning the corner into fall.
One of the Mixtec farmers in Salinas, who is growing chiles for us this year, offered us the first picking of their strawberry crop. They will be accompanying our Arroz con Leche as “Fresas Locas”, strawberries tossed with lime juice, sugar, chile arbol and mint. Spring has arrived.