We are very fond of flavoursome, firm strawberries, irrespective of size; size only matters when you want to make jam, for which smaller strawberries work better. When we were, ahem, young, you could only buy strawberries in Melbourne for a few months of the year. Now we can buy them close to all year round, thanks to varietal development enabling a longer local season; new production areas in climatic niches in Queensland and Western Australia; and improvements to handling and transport.
To our palates, the strawberries grown in southern Queensland are superior, in terms of flavour, texture and durability; we have been less enamoured of the fruit from WA, much of which has a wishy-washy flavour.
When we went shopping for fruit and vegetables at Toscano’s last Saturday, they had well-presented punnets of strawberries at two for $5.00; Maggie chose a pair. We assumed they were from Queensland, so we were surprised when Bob Toscano told us they were from WA and, what’s more, from a new supplier producing better berries than had been available previously from that State.
Perhaps Bob’s brother and nephew – who do the buying for the business – had got over-excited; Bob said he had a lot of punnets to move before the end of the week’s trade later in the day. While we were working our way around the shop, the price dropped to three for $6.00; Maggie took another punnet.
Now, Maggie and I shop differently. I tend to be menu-driven; Maggie is more inclined to be smitten by a product or a price and go ‘off-list’. Anyway, the deed was done – not that I put up much resistance – so, when we returned home, I dragged out recipe books for us to scan in search of options for converting 750g of strawberries into food for two persons before the fruit deteriorated.
Our collection of recipe books didn’t turn up anything that we fancied right now. We like Strawberries Romanoff but we had made that two or three times earlier in the year. So, to the internet, beginning with the Australian site, http://www.taste.com.au, which is where I found a recipe for a strawberry and cream tart.
You can see how it turned out; if it appeals to you, the recipe is only a few clicks away. Our only modifications were to halve the berries and to replace 1 tbsp of rum with close to 2 tbsp of Cointreau; and we had the satisfaction of using our homemade jam for the glaze.
As scrumptious as it was, we didn’t actually eat all of this by ourselves. Maggie walked a generous serve up the street to friendly neighbours who are our guinea-pigs-in-residence for new dishes we make. The balance of the fruit has been tossed with some lovely passionfruit and consumed with a modest amount of reduced-fat ice cream.