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Strawberry season starts - stand & shortcake sightings?

So ... What have you seen so far?

Junie D says the Napa stands are open.

jillyju and lexdevil shared that there's strawberry shortcake at Bakesale Betty's

Ruth Lafler's said she saw Santa Maria strawberries at a the San Leandro Bayfair Farmer's market

I spotted fresh strawberries tarts at Nations today. Shoulda stopped. Here's last year's report.

Raley's has a $2 lb strawberry sale but right now the Driscolls are slightly sour & squishy. Skip them this week. Not as sweet as last season.

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  1. I've been buying delicious strawberries at the Berkeley farmer's markets (Tuesday & Saturday) for a few weeks now (Lucero and many others have them). They've actually been surprisingly sweet. Also, Sketch had fresh strawberry ice cream recently. Really good. They were out of the strawberry shortcake at Bakesale Betty's on Friday, so if you want it I guess you have to go early.

    1. New Mey Wah grocery on Clement had some baskets which I picked up on two different occasions. The first one was surprisingly sweet and delicious! The second time I went and picked up a basket, they were a little on the bland side. I think they were $2.99.

      1. Not shortcake, but Tartine had strawberries on its bread pudding this morning, and it was a delicious combo.

        1 Reply
        1. re: vinchar

          That means that Tartine's stawberry galettes can't be far behind. I know various 'hounds don't love all or even most Tartine pastries, but there really can be no resisting their strawberry galettes--keep an eye out.
          And speaking of which, Mission Pie (at 25th & Mission) had strawberry galettes today, of which I'm eating a half as I type. Very satisfying in a homey way--pastry a tiny bit bland and chewy but all in all very good, and stawberries flavorful altough the flavor's mingled (enhanced? muddied? you be the judge) with something else, maybe rhubarb (sorry for lack of discrernment). All in all, quite good and worth a try (unless Tartine's got theirs for sale).

        2. They had a strawberry shortcake booth at the Japantown Cherry Blossom Festival both this week and last. I didn't indulge because I've long ago given up on California strawberries,

          5 Replies
          1. re: Gary Soup

            Given up on California strawberries...what does that mean? You don't eat strawberries or you get them from somewhere else? You mean to tell me that there isn't one grower in all of California who grows strawberries to your liking?

            1. re: Jim

              Just that no matter how expensive, they don't have anything near the flavor of the berries I remember as a kid, which grew wild (and were therefore free) but only were in season for two or three weeks.

              1. re: Gary Soup

                I agree, I've never had a really good store-bought strawberry. Even the most expensive, organic berries have been picked slightly unripe. Otherwise, they'd fall apart and rot very quickly. The ones I grow at home I have to "share" with slugs and pill bugs but they're soft, juicy and tasty. I've even gone to U-pick farms, but the berries there never are allowed to fully ripen either.

                1. re: Gary Soup

                  Have you tried Swanton's strawberries? I think they are unfailingly delicious--something about ripening slowly in the cool coast air and developing lots of sugar. I indulged in my first 2 pints of the season at the market on Saturday. The u-pick berries are even better because you can pick them completely ripe (assuming you are planning to eat them within a day.)

                  1. re: Gary Soup

                    I felt the same way until I got the berries in the Two Small Farms CSA box a few years ago. I always ate the whole basket before I got home with the rest of the box.

              2. the civic center farmer's market on wednesdays has a latino family farm stand (medina??... yellow sign, always on the market side of the plaza, between the bart exit and mcallister) that sells "red-heart" strawberries. last week they were $2.50 a basket. they are absolutely fantastic.

                they might even be certified organic this year; i remember them being in the end stages of certification last year.

                9 Replies
                1. re: artemis

                  Are they red all the way through?

                  1. re: Gary Soup

                    yep, the basket i picked up last week was!

                    1. re: artemis

                      That's the way I thought all strawberries were, when I was a kid. I also didn't get the concept of paying money for them, because they grew wild everywhere, or so I thought.

                      1. re: Gary Soup

                        Last weekend while on our way to Mendocino from Reno we stopped at a roadside vendor just outside of Yuba City on Highway 20. The strawberries we bought there were not only reasonably priced (5 bucks for a flat) but were some of the best I'd tasted in a long time.......You knew they would be good before you took a bite...they smelled lovely too!

                        1. re: Gary Soup

                          Geez. Where did you grow up? I'm jealous. I grew up on terrible grocery store strawberries (and tomatoes for that matter), so I'm thrilled when I can buy good, farmer's market strawberries.

                          1. re: Gary Soup

                            Gary, if you're really looking for sweet strawberries straight from the vines, then you really should make a drive to Fresno and buy from the street stands. When in season, the strawberries are huge and so sweet. I think if you try them, then you won't be able to say that "all" California strawberries aren't good. Because the Fresno ones will change your mind, IMHO.

                      2. re: artemis

                        I wonder if those are Albions -- I believe they're one of the "red-through" varieties, and to me they're the most strawberry tasting of the commercial varieties.

                        I was at the Temescal FM this morning -- there were half a dozen or more vendors with strawberries, including Lucero. I didn't try the Lucero, since I didn't see them until after I'd already bought a 3-pack from Yerena.

                        In my ongoing exploration of the mystery of the non-labelling of strawberry varieties, I asked three of the "strawberry-only" vendors what varieties their berries were. One didn't know (boo!), and his berries weren't very good. One said she had Aromas and Diamontes -- I tried an Aroma and wasn't impressed. Yerena had Camarosas, Albions and "C23" -- a more orange-tinged berry the guy said was very sweet. Once again, I preferred the Albions and had him pick me up a box from the unmarked assortment on the table. Again, I marvelled that people didn't realize that the strawberry they tasted from the sample basket might not be the same as the basket they purchased. Then I turned around and saw Lucero. Their berries are very frou-frou looking: much smaller and picked with long stems. They were busy and I didn't have a chance to ask them about their berries.

                        Bakesale Betties had signs plugging their shortcakes all over the market.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          I stopped by Lucero at the Grand Lake farmers' market this morning. I was all ready to buy some of those "frou-frou" berries until I tasted one. Yuck! Bitter and muddy-tasting with very little strawberry flavor. She said they were Seascapes. I really don't like Seascapes. I don't even like Swanton Seascapes -- I think maybe my bitter-sensitivity is picking up a bitter component to them that maybe others aren't.

                          At anyrate, I don't see how *anyone* could have liked the strawberry I had at Lucero this morning -- talk about a triumph of style over substance!

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            I was told that Swanton was only growing Chandlers as of last year, not Seascapes at all.

                      3. The stand on 12 in Kenwood was open today. The one on the corner of Arnold Drive and Watmaugh (?) in Sonoma was closed as of last Tuesday.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Junie D

                          Junie, where is this stand on 12? Near what cross-street or winery? Thanks.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Hmmmm... I'm not too good on cross streets. It's at the corner with the only light. If you are heading towards Santa Rosa, on the right side. Just south of the nursery/banner/outdoor sculpture store - is that called Swede's?

                            1. re: Junie D

                              Can't tell if it's Swede's or Wildwood Farm...I'll just have to go. Thanks, Junie D.

                        2. I saw a stand/u-pick place open in Brentwood last Friday. It was on the right-hand side of the road heading into town from Vasco (which I think becomes Walnut? once you get to Brentwood).

                          1. The stands in Half Moon Bay off of 92 have been open. I just had the strawberry shortcake at Bakesale Betty's on Monday (yes, she's open on Monday with limited selection) It was absolutely the most awesome comfort food...traditional biscuit with a crispy sugar crust, generous toppings of fresh macerated strawberries and whipped cream...I also got the apricot/almond scone. It was delicious, full of apricots, aromatic of almond. I nibbled on it for 3 days (I know a bit gross, but very self controlled of me...) and it kept very well, never dried out, (must be the butter and heavy cream) even the very last crumbs...

                            1. I finally trekked over the Bakesale Betty's for their Strawberry Shortcake... it came in a plastic box with lots of delicious, ripe strawberry, good shortcake and lots and lots of whipped cream. My only complaint was that there was way too much whipped cream for my taste, but then that's very subjective. That said, it was scrumptious and enough for two of us for $4.50.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: liujenny

                                Oops, forgot to attach the two pictures I took of it... there was so many strawberries and whipped cream you can't actually see the shortcake.

                                1. re: liujenny

                                  Sea Salt currently has a great rhubarb tart with strawberry-vanilla ice cream. The warm latticed tart is incredibly delicate and buttery with perfect rhubarb taste. Very good strawberry flavor in the ice cream and a perfect match for that tart.

                                  Much better than Cafe Fanny's recent batch of strawberry ice cream which was made with some pretty tasteless berries.

                                  Anyway, the rhubarb tart pairs very nicely with a lovely port they have on the menu ... the name I forgot. It starts with an "N" and costs $6.

                              2. My sister picked up a strawberry sundae at Bi-Rite Creamery today. I had only a few bites-- and it was good! Creme fraiche ice cream topped with fresh strawberries, crumbled sugar cookies and creme fraiche. It was called spring sundae or something like that-- it was on their special's board. Highly recommended!

                                1. Berkeley Bowl has five varieties of strawberries today with with prices running from 99 cents to $2 for organic. All berries are in stellar condition without bruises.

                                  Not sure if some of these are varieties or farm names

                                  Well Picx (well pict?) 99 cents small $1.59 large

                                  These are a tart berry with a lemon note to them.

                                  KiKa ($1.59)

                                  Those "K"s must stand for Krisp because this was one of the crispest strawberries I've ever had. Like a seascape, but marginally sweeter.

                                  Fujii's Finest 99 cents small basket $1.59 large size

                                  Pretty much a standard supermarke strawberry but a tad better

                                  Santa Maria organic berries $1.99

                                  The sweetest and juiciest of the current berries I tried at the Bowl. Not in Chandler territory, but good

                                  Driscoll ... uh, forgot the price since I've had these before. They can be good

                                  They also have the large berries with the long stems, but I never buy those.

                                  More and more stone fruit is appearing. Apricot-wise the Apache is the best so far. It is slightly sweet and has a good enough apricot taste. Don't think too much of the Poppy apricots which are just tart without much apricot flavor.

                                  Didn't get a chance to stop by Crixa, but they have had two strawberry desserts on and off recently ...
                                  - Strawberry Pavlova

                                  - Strawberry Cream Cake: vanilla chiffon with fresh strawberries in brandied vanilla custard. Lightly sweetened with cream and crushed amaretti almond cookie crumbs.

                                  Haven't been able to try them yet.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rworange

                                    rworange, KiKa is a farm, out of Watsonville.

                                    Their camarosa's are excellent, and so are their seascapes. The albions...I don't like - no matter who the farmer is.
                                    From my experience, Kika's peak later in the season... I'd say June & July is the best.
                                    1013 Pepper Place
                                    Watsonville, CA 95076
                                    831 818-2132



                                  2. I got some great strawberries from Catalán at the Berkeley farmers market last Saturday. They looked like the big tasteless supermarket kind but had very good flavor.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      I started buying the Catalán strawberries when I very first saw them weeks ago at the Thursday N. Berkeley farmer's market. So far, after trying numerous other farm's berries and varieties, the Catalán strawberries are still my favorite. Good strawberry flavor, good balance of sweet to tart, and nice sized, firm berries that last in the fridge over a week (if you can keep them that long!).

                                      1. re: chemchef

                                        Catalan is the producer, right? Do you know what variety you've been buying from them? Most producers grow more than one variety, because they ripen at different stages of the season. Unlike LauraB, I like Albions -- it's seascapes I never like (too earthy).

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          At least their early ones were Albion.

                                    2. The strawberry stand in Sonoma at Arnold and Watmaugh was open on Saturday. Bought 3 baskets for the Mom's day, gobbled them down same day purchased. Don't know the variety, but they were big (which I usually think of as a negative), but red all the way through, and very aromatic/flavorful. $7 for 3 heaping baskets, cheaper by the flat, but in my experience, these berries need to be eaten same day. Even my family can't eat a flat in a day, and I think that berries really lose by being refrigerated.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: dkenworthy

                                        Taste-wise they won't be as good, but you can store strawberries up to two weeks in the fridge if you keep them in glass jars. Works very well for raspberries too.

                                      2. For the past two weeks, we've been getting Red Heart strawberries from Medina's (Watsonville) at the Serramonte and the College of San Mateo markets. These are very fragrant and sweet even though they are firmer and larger than the average sweet berry. I liked them a lot.

                                        1. If you are in West Marin or Sonoma county, stop at Kitty Dolcini's stand on the Point Reyes - Petaluma road just east of the Cheese Factory and the Novato turn off. She picks them fresh each day and they are great. 3 bucks a basket if I remember. She's really nice too.