As Gourmandistan has for the moment relocated to Gascony, we’ve been exploring the markets of our temporary territory, discovering once again the delights offered by French farmers. Some of the nicer things we’ve enjoyed have been fresh strawberries. In America, our usual home, we would shun strawberries at this time of year, since they would most likely be chemical-laden imports with gargantuan carbon footprints. But in Europe, things are different. Everbearing strawberries have been cultivated for centuries here—pumping out sweet, juicy fruits (or, to be technically accurate, aggregates) well into Autumn. So along with fermier cheeses and yogurt, fat-swathed duck confit and potimarron (a pumpkin-like squash), we’ve happily scooped up local strawberries at some of the markets we’ve visited on our latest trip to France.
We’ve so far seen Darselect, Charlotte and Mara des Bois varieties. And their provenance is proudly displayed by the market vendors.
Last year Michelle channeled her inner Martha Stewart (OK, she actually just got one of Martha’s recipes online) and whipped up a delicious parfait of berries, balsamic vinegar and crème fraîche. We made it again this week. It’s simple, but superb—and in the more southern parts of Europe, you can enjoy it even in September!
STRAWBERRIES WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR & CRÈME FRAÎCHE
Macerate sliced strawberries in sugar, preferably a demerara type, but any kind will do. Splash on some good balsamic vinegar. You want a nice mix of sweet and sour, so add more of whichever is needed.
Stir some white or confectioners’ sugar and a little vanilla extract into crème fraîche, to taste.
You can make a pretty parfait by layering the berries and the crème fraîche in a parfait or champagne glass. Or, you can simply plop the crème fraîche in a bowl and spoon the berries and juice over.
The original recipe called for crumbled Italian macaroons (amaretti), which sounds good, but we’ve never had any around when needed.