I was prompted to ask myself that question when the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets invited me to give some blog love to the sixth annual Strawberry Dessert Festival.
Hmmm. Let me see. Do I want to write about Farmer’s Markets? Desserts? Strawberries? Three checks in the yes column there.
Do I want to subject myself to the arduous task of tasting the lush and luscious strawberry creations of Oleana, Harvest, the Fireplace and Lineage all in the name of job fulfillment? Still listening….she says as she wipes a smudge of strawberry off her chin.
Would I like to salute the local farms who deliver said strawberries, so ripe and red and juicy and sweet, so close to the fields that they’re still moist with dew and warm from the sun? Why, yes. Yes, I do.
Every restaurant that serves a dessert during Strawberry Dessert Festival offers a percentage of the proceeds to the Farmers Market Federation to support their mission to foster, embrace and sustain farmers markets in Massachusetts.
For me, a champion of agricultural sustainability, culinary creativity, and philanthropy of any kind, this invitation is like winning the lottery. Each of the restaurants I choose to visit has conscientiously cultivated relationships with local farmers, fishmongers, dairies and other artisan producers to bring local, fresh, and seasonally vibrant dishes to your table. In June, the long-awaited New England strawberry crop epitomizes those values.
More than once while researching this story, I felt like a voyeur. An interloper attempting to understand the dynamics of an intimate love story. Such is the relationship that chefs have with their ingredients, the rightness of their concept, their commitment of time and energy to realize it, and, ultimately, their desire to bring happiness, surprise, and satisfaction to their diner’s experience.
A good chef literally caresses the best out of each ingredient that ends up on your plate and ultimately in your mouth. It can be argued that a pastry work elevates that gentle, coaxing push to perfection one step further. I’ve always thought the pastry bench was the ideal domain for the Renaissance Chef: part scientist, part artist, part historian, part naturalist, part cultural anthropologist. This week, a number of talented chefs proved me right.
You can click here to read more about Brookline restaurants Lineage and the Fireplace.
You can click here to read more about Cambridge restaurants Harvest and Oleana.
Please stop by for a delicious dessert, and support the wonderful Massachusetts Federation of Farmers Markets.