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Being the Chef of a restaurant that uses seasonal foods to inspire the menu, it is important to understand that making the most of spring’s great produce means letting the flavors speak for themselves. The season’s first harvest after a dormant winter will bring bright fruit flavors from strawberries, blueberries and kiwi. The season’s vegetables to take advantage of will be sugar snap peas, spinach, asparagus and artichokes. You ate them in January, they were flat and bland—passable, but nothing to write home about. Now, you take a bite from one grown half a mile away and in season, and it is spectacular—sweet, juicy and flavorful.
In this particular instance, we are talking about strawberries, but we could say the same thing about a dozen produce items you might find at your local farmer’s market now. ‘Tis the season to eat fresh, as the tender new growth of spring ripens. So why settle for “so-so” when you can savor the sensational? Consider the benefits of eating foods at the peak of their season. Seasonal foods serve up the most flavor and pack the biggest nutritional punch, not to mention they’ll boost your budget, and these foods are tied to the special days and seasons of our lives: sweet young vegetables that accompany spring’s first warm day. As consumers today, we are very lucky in some respects. We have the ability to enjoy the seasonal rhythm of life by purchasing locally-grown seasonal foods. The following is one of my favorite chutneys to serve over chicken, fresh seafood or roasted pork loin.
Food can be a spiritual experience. I want to encourage you to enjoy the fellowship with your friends and family this spring and this season of your life.
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs clarified butter
In a sauté pan, place the clarified butter and the finely diced red onion. Over high heat, sautee the onion until it is translucent. Deglaze with red wine vinegar, add sugar and reduce over medium heat until syrup is made. Place the sliced strawberries in a metal bowl, and pour the hot syrup over the fresh fruit, allowing them to marinate in the syrup. Serve at room temperature.
“And Spring arose on the garden fair, like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere; and each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”
– Percy Bysshe Shelley