There are tricks to bringing out the best of any food, like sprinkling salt on melon. Invariably the intensity of even a watermelon’s tangy sweetness is enhanced. Our strawberry season on Long Island is short enough to try some variations on the theme of sweet and tangy. It’s not all Strawberry Shortcake, much as our local fire departments, with their June deservedly touted strawberry festivals, steer us in that direction.
While strawberries are so perfectly ripe you can sniff their scarlet sweetness stacked in the box even before you slice them, enjoy them for breakfast, lunch and dessert without feeling you’re overindulging. After all, the season is short.
My old New York Metropole Jazz Cafe friend, Marty Napoleon, was playing the piano at Dune Deck the summer a bunch of us streamed from the piano bar to a party at Bunny Shubert’s beach house where, after a fabulous paella, Bunny’s chef served strawberries Romanov. He’d kept it really simple, tossing sliced berries with Cointreau-soaked macaroon crumbs. That was all there was to it. Plenty of recipes exist for this glamorously named dessert, but that’s the version memory labels “Best of the Best.”
Equally simple and beguiling is strawberries with sour cream. For each serving, scoop about one-half cup of sour cream in the center of a small bowl. Sprinkle it generously with dark brown sugar. Pile sliced strawberries around the mound of cream. Use a fork to swirl each slice in the sour cream and sugar as you savor the bite. The dark brown sugar turns to a molasses consistency, emphasizing the sweet and savory contrast of flavors. (You can try it with yogurt, but it’s not the same!)