The strawberry, in all her ripe and rosy glory, could quite easily rest on the laurels of her looks alone, but this pretty little berry has a heavenly smell, a delectable flavor and oodles of antioxidants and Vitamin C to boot. Nothing beats a fresh-picked strawberry still warm from the late spring sun, but several places around town manage to gussy her up while still letting her natural beauty shine through. The berry best part? These temptations are served morning, noon and night.
Strawberry fields forever: Two-year-old Ila Byrd takes a bite out of the juicy fruit at Chiles Peach Orchard.
To add some glory to your morning, visit The Flat, where they lovingly fold sliced fresh strawberries into a warm, fluffy crepe slathered with chocolate-hazelnut Nutella.
L’étoile chef and owner Mark Gresge sees no reason why the strawberry should be typecast into just fruit salads. Strawberries earn the lead in his spring salad of arugula, strawberries, chevre, pecans and Belgian endive with a cinnamon, orange vinaigrette.
Splendora goes gourmet by accenting its house-made, fresh strawberry gelato with the delicate, anise-flavored herb, tarragon.
When happy hour arrives, head to Mono Loco, where strawberries get muddled with fresh blueberries and passion fruit purée, then spiked with top-shelf tequila in The Frothy Monkey Margarita.
Leave it to Mas Tapas to gild the lily Spanish-style, with strawberry, rhubarb and local honey “compote,” served over a brioche waffle topped with Hudson Valley foie gras.
Duner’s gives strawberries the pedestal they deserve by layering them in a footed parfait glass with Grand Marnier-soaked ladyfingers and creamy mascarpone in a fruity twist on tiramisu.— Megan Headley
Though it’s hard to improve on a juicy spring strawberry, cloaking it in chocolate is delicious proof that sometimes the whole equals more than the sum of its parts. This recipe calls for 3 ounces of semisweet or dark chocolate, melted in a bowl set over simmering water. It should cover 1 pound of berries.
Wash the berries under a gentle spray of water, then dry them thoroughly with a tea towel. (Chocolate and water aren’t friends, and any missed water droplets will keep the chocolate from setting properly.) Line your baking sheet with kitchen parchment and, holding them by the leaves, dip your berries and place them on the baking sheet. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or until chocolate is firm.—Meredith Barnes
Grab your own luscious strawberries for your salad at one of these local picking spots.
Chiles Peach Orchard and Farm Market in Crozet. Open Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm and Sundays 10am-5pm, early May to mid-June. Call 823-1583.
Critzer Family Farm in Afton. Open Monday-Saturday 8am-6pm. Call (540) 456-4772.
Troyer Nursery in Waynesboro. Open Monday-Saturday from 8am-4:30pm or until “picked out.” Call (540) 932-7363.
Strawberry and arugula salad
1/2 pint strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 bunches arugula, washed, dried and trimmed
1/2 cup toasted pecan halves
In a large bowl, toss strawberries with 1 tbs. balsamic vinegar; let sit 5 to 10 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining tbs. balsamic vinegar with the olive oil and salt and pepper. To the strawberries, add vinaigrette, arugula, and toasted pecan halves. Toss to combine, and serve.—Chef Mark Gresge of L’étoile