Strawberry Fields Forever
I have two vivid memories of eating strawberries, when I was a child growing up in Northern Ireland. The first is when I made the startling discovery that strawberries can be found growing wild in hedges. I found these tiny succulent berries, sweet and red, in the hedgerow just a hop and a skip from my home in Co Tyrone. The second memory was equally exciting. My uncle and I walked together through the apple trees on his fruit farm, until we reached his strawberry field. There, as far as my tiny eyes could see, was a strawberry field that went on forever, stretching as far as my childhood horizon. My first proper prolonged taste sensation! No pictures except for those in my mind’s eye. Here’s a sound track instead:
John Lennon Strawberry Fields Forever live acoustic
1m 24s in
So yes, strawberries spell romance and sentiment and I cannot be the only one who awaits the arrival of the strawberry season with high hopes, only to have them dashed by the bruised, over-ripened, tasteless, watery offerings found in most supermarkets at this time of year. I’m growing my own alpine variety this year but the crop is small and the first tiny fruit tasted okay, but not earth shattering. So off I went round the local supermarkets and I was pleasantly surprised to find some very appealing Elsanta strawberries in Aldi a few weeks ago. The colour was good, the texture was good and the price was right! £1:99 for 600g and not a bad strawberry to be found. The size was good too, not too large, which usually means plumped up with water and a poor flavour. Definitely my supermarket strawberry choice of the season so far!!
These were great with Total 0% Yoghurt, which is not a cheap option at £2:70 for 500g in my local Sainsbury’s, but boy it’s good!
I hate shopping for clothes and I hate shopping for clothes in Oxford Street, but occasionally a madness grips me and I decide to give it another go. Several frustrating hours among the teeming hordes and my body is crying out for sustenance. It’s mid afternoon, my friend and I have lunched at my house. What to do? It’s not long before we know that we need to find a safe haven near Bond Street, somewhere that’s welcoming, that offers peace and quiet, prosecco and sweet treats.Spaghetti House in Duke Street fitted the bill perfectly. We shared the three June specials, which showcase, yes you’ve guessed it, the strawberry. These strawberries have been carefully selected from a farm in Norfolk and can be from field to sharing spoons in the city within 36 hours.
We started with the Frappe alla Fragola, an Italian smoothie which we both agreed had a velvety, luxurious texture. It was smooth and rich and at first it felt that there was perhaps too much banana, masking the strawberry taste. The further down we went, the more obvious it became that this had perfect balance, somewhere between sweet and sour (from the yoghurt). The strawberry really kicked in at the end. Refreshing and reviving!
Next up, served in a tall glass the Coppa di Fragole
At £6:95, this is not cheap and yes it’s calorific but what a treat. The Spaghetti House take on the Knickerbocker Glory, housing a treasure trove of contrasting tastes and textures that delighted the taste buds. There’s a lot more to this than mere strawberries!
Finally, Fragole con Marscapone.
I licked my plate no okay, it was a sharing dish so I merely and unashamedly scraped up the last suggestion of marscapone and double cream, the perfect companions for these strawberries. If I had to choose just one dessert for strawberry perfection, this would be it! Even the mint was delicious! It’s the attention to detail and the quality of ingredients that matter.
Ah yes the strawberries. How did they fare in the taste test? They looked and tasted like strawberries which had been grown with care. Did they evoke that childhood memory we all cherish? Remarkably, yes they did. They were the real deal not the cynical watery version.
Oh, a small shout out for the Prosecco. My friend likened it to Nicholas Feuillatte champagne, light fresh and fruity, great with these strawberry delights.
I am glad to have discovered Spaghetti House and I like their central locations. It’s a great place for female friends to meet and relax, away from the hurly burly of the city streets. Nothing seemed like too much trouble for the staff and Gabrieli the assistant manager was welcoming and attentive. Next month, the specials feature the native lobster. Another favourite of mine. There might still be some strawberries, subject to availability. Go on, you know you want to! Grab a girlfriend, desist from the exhausting, often futile,clothes’ shopping expedition and indulge yourself!
Ursula O’ Reilly Traynor