A little late to the party, but I’m sure most people have heard that May is Eat Local month, and I am happy to see that so many bloggers have taken up the challenge. I admit that the busyness in my life the last couple of weeks did not give me a lot of time to research how to take up this challenge in the most effective ways; but I do know that living in the Bay Area, especially in San Francisco, makes it near-impossible to not buy local if you try, unless you really make an effort and only get food from Walgreen’s.
Since my site is pastry-oriented, I thought I could have a much narrower focus on my efforts to buy local: after all, butter, flour, sugar, and eggs will always be needed in the sweet kitchen. And with all the fruit coming into season, using them in desserts is a given. How lucky for us Bay Area residents to be living near so many small farms practicing sustainable agriculture, and so many organizations like Locavores and Local Harvest to help us find resources! Using local fruit as a focal point in my baking was my first goal. As for dairy products, we have both Straus Creamery and Clover Farms from Marin County providing butter, milk and cream. The other items like flour and sugar I am researching and will address in future posts.
I started my Eat Local efforts by going to that most famous of farmer’s markets in San Francisco, the one at the Ferry Building. It was perfect spring blue sky and clear golden light falling on the restless bay in the way that makes up for the preponderance of grey days in the summer. People were inspecting the produce, arms full of flowers and unnecessary jackets – everyone was in a happy mood.
I was happy to find some strawberries beckoning to me from their jewel-box containers. I share Bea’s sentiments, being a May baby myself – spring is strawberry time, and I had pored through all my recipe books last night and come up with a pile of desserts to try with the two bags of berries I was lugging home.
Tempting as it was to lie down in the sun and take a nap, I had to get all my produce back. I settled for throwing all the windows open in the apartment and letting the light pour in, along with the sounds of a sun-drunk city to swirl about as accompaniment to the activities being undertaken in the kitchen.
For my first strawberry creation I chose the luscious-sounding Honey-Cream Strawberry Parfaits in Emily Luchetti’s A Passion for Desserts. Simplicity itself: layers of fresh berries and cream sweetened with honey. The cream is made very similar to a crème anglaise, but thickened with clover honey and white chocolate. While the recipe calls for a parfait-style assembly, if the cream is simply poured over the berries the entire thing looks quite similar to a fruit sabayon. I liked the honey overtones in the cream but I might have used less white chocolate or omitted it entirely – the flavor didn’t quite seem to mesh with the others.
However, it still makes a light and lovely chilled dessert to enjoy on the balcony while watching the sun set over the gleaming bay….and thinking of what to do with the rest of the strawberries…
Strawberries – Yerena Farms, Watsonville
Cream – Clover Farms, Marin County