Sunday, August 31, 2014

Strawberries

November 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Events, Feisty Fun, Food Memories

Once after another crappy day of high school, I was walking home from the train station when I caught a whiff of the most gloriously sweet fragrance on the planet.

Strawberries.

A man had set up a small stand half a block from the subway entrance and had stacks upon stacks upon stacks of clear plastic containers filled with bright red strawberries, and the perfume wafting on the wind was overwhelmingly delicious. He saw me stopped dead in my tracks, staring and drooling, and smiled, beckoning me over, saying the strawberries were two containers for $4.

What fool would say no to that? What fool would even hesitate over such a great price – these were the really big containers – for such absolutely delicious smelling berries?

I hesitated because… you guessed it. I’d had a bad experience when I was younger, biting into a bright red strawberry that looked like it would promise me the sweetest taste of all time.

Instead, it tasted like bitter, dry cardboard. Unripe strawberry is not tasty eats. That scarred me to the point where I refused to eat strawberries for a very, very long time afterwards.

But these strawberries called to me… they smelled so good, how could they not taste just as good?

I bought two containers, the smell taunting me during my walk home. I finally got home and rushed to wash a few of the bright red berries, praying these would be good.

I bit into one, and was transported to heaven… you know those commercials where a woman bites into a strawberry and her eyes roll back a little before they close, and she’s in total bliss?

Yeah, that was me. 15 year old me tore through an entire container of strawberries within minutes, juices dribbling down my chin. I probably looked manic, just gobbling those berries with abandon.

Since then, I’ve searched far and wide for strawberries that are on par with that experience. Unfortunately, I’ve had far more times closer to the one that put me off berries for a while: cardboard, bitter, dry strawberries.

Ugh.

As you can imagine, I don’t often eat strawberries any more because of this.

This past Saturday, I was invited to a Driscoll’s Crafting Berry Brunch. I’m familiar with Driscoll’s as a brand of berries – not just strawberries, but blueberries, blackberries, and more. I was curious what I’d learn at this brunch… especially as I’m not particularly crafty, at all.

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Of course, what’s brunch without food? There was a great table of little snack type things, and on the far left, there were bagels and various spreads – which is where I found my meal, a bagel with strawberry butter. Yum. And coffee… definitely coffee.

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I quickly found my place, marked by this – and I have to say, I absolutely loved this place card. It’s a great idea and how they implemented it for a press event was genius: an inexpensive frame, with a name tag inside it that had my name, my blog name, and my Twitter handle… which is all pretty standard. But then they included my profile photo from Twitter, and then a photo from my actual site – a recent post. I thought that was really great – so whoever sat next to me could see right away a few things about me – my blog name, some photos I’ve taken… seriously creative, I think this was a great call for a crafting brunch.

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Also at my place was this – Handiwipes to keep our hands clean, boxes of strawberries, a bucket of mint, and a tall green Styrofoam cone for us to make our very own strawberry trees. Melissa Klein, the editor of Celebrations.com, showed us how to create a lovely edible centerpiece for our holiday gatherings.

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And here’s mine. Super simple – you poke a toothpick into the Styrofoam, then slide a strawberry onto it, and keep doing this all around – though time/labor intensive. It’s not that it’s difficult, but it does take a bit of time, and learning how closely you can and should space the toothpicks takes a few minutes… but eventually, you get something like this, and you can fill in the gaps with mint to make it look more tree-like. Funny enough, we got to take these home, and I was lugging it through Chinatown for a bit… where older Chinese people kept staring down my tree and “whispering” rather loudly about how pretty it was and wondering if it was real… I thought it wasn’t that pretty as I’d seen other people with much better trees… and real? Did they think strawberries really grew like this? I was rather alarmed at one point when I put it down, in a reusable bag, at the bank so I could take money out of the ATM… and a woman walked right up to it and looked like she was going to touch it, maybe to take a berry! What the heck, it’s not like it was just out and might be Citibank property/decoration!!! Another woman, from whom I was buying a snack (she runs the cart outside the J/M/Z station on Canal), asked me questions about how to make it and whether it was real… I told her how easy it was, so maybe she’ll make it herself.

In any case, I brought it over to my sister’s and tried some of the berries. Shockingly sweet and juicy, and awesomely delicious. We ate almost all of the strawberries in a matter of minutes (along with her two kids, that is). They weren’t quite as good as the berries of my memories, but it’s hard to live up to a 17 year old memory. They were pretty darn tasty though!

The fun thing is, you can use all sorts of berries to make it more colorful too – golden raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, regular raspberries. It was suggested that a piece of mango cut into the shape of a star be the topper, but I would avoid doing that unless you’re going to eat it that day, as mango is openly wet/sticky and would definitely attract bugs if left out for more than a few hours.

Pretty to look at, and tasty too. More things in life should be like that.

Thank you to Driscoll’s for having me! It was fun learning how even a clumsy non-crafter like me can make something pretty and impressive – and yet, still pretty simple – which is one of my favorite things in life. Making things that look really cool or taste really good – or both! – but are actually fairly simple at their heart.

I was invited to attend this event as a blogger. I was under no obligation to post about it and received no monetary compensation to do so. Opinions expressed are my own, and I do so freely.

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Comments

7 Responses to “Strawberries”
  1. CheeeeEEEEse says:

    Very nice tree ya’ got there.

    I think they still taste good because of new farming methods that are extending their season all the way into December. I like Driscoll’s because they fill all of their containers by hand, in the field no less, so you know that each berry will be perfect.

    Personally, I’ve never liked strawberries, even when dipped in chocolate (go figure), because of the seeds ruining my textural experience. Bleh.

    • I didn’t know that – that’s actually pretty cool! I’m not a fan of choco dipped strawberries either; if the berry isn’t sweet enough, it stands out in stark contrast to the chocolate. And if it’s sweet, it’s ruined by the chocolate… in my opinion. I know some people go nuts for them.

      It’s funny you mention the seeds… I feel that way about other fruits but not strawberries, the seeds don’t particularly stand out for me.

      BTW, fun fact I failed to mention: no matter the size of the berry, every strawberry has 200 seeds on it.

      • CheeeeEEEEse says:

        Yeah, it was part of an Unwrapped segment (episode “Very Berry”) on Food Network. I can’t actually find a stream of the episode online, so you’re going to have to trust me on that one. :P

        I did not know the 200 seed fact.

        • It’s something one of the kids at the above event came over to share – the daughter of the woman I was sitting next to. I just double checked, it’s “on average” but not exactly 200. My bad. But still, cool when you think of huge berries and small berries having about the same number of seeds…

  2. Dessert Zombie says:

    I now want an edible Christmas Tree. :)

  3. hungry says:

    I definitely do the smell test for most of my fruits. If it smells sweet, it usually is.

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