It’s one of my favorite times of the year when it comes to eating and dining. The farmer’s markets are in full swing and there’s a brief point in time where I can get Georgia produce by the bag full. Don’t get me wrong, we’re lucky to have year-round farmers markets in Atlanta and the green stuff is always plentiful.
I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth and love when I can get strawberries and Georgia’s signature peaches. However, today my focus for this post is strawberries. The lock screen on my iPhone for the last month? An array of beautiful strawberries from Mitcham Farm. Arugula, strawberries, and a bit of local goat cheese and I’m good to go.
I was a guest of the Ritz Carlton, Buckhead a few weeks ago and they were just getting in strawberries and featuring them in the Cafe in a variety of dishes. I’d been trying for a bit to take a look at what Chef Todd Richards has been up to since leaving Rolling Bones Barbecue ( see 2009 post here) and being named a chef to watch by Esquire magazine. Although it was my first time having his food in this setting, I’m familiar with what he’s up to with his frequent updates to his personal blog.
As you can see from the plate, it was beautiful and a delightful way to eat fresh strawberries, you have your sweetness from the strawberries & balsamic and crunch from the peanuts. The variety of textures were a lot of fun. I’ll have more to say about the Ritz in a future post. You can even try your own hand at this dish, as Todd has graciously provided the recipe to me.
Atlanta has a number of locations where you can gather your own strawberries and the Examiner has provided a great list and outside of Atlanta? PickYourOwn.org has you covered. It’s always a good idea to call before making the trek, as hours may vary.
The Cafe at The Ritz Carlton, Buckhead’s Strawberry Salad
12ea. Medium size strawberries washed and stem removed
4ea. Large Basil Leaves
1cup. Balsamic Vinegar
½cup. Toasted Salted Organic Peanuts
In a sauce pot combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer under low heat. Once the mixture is combine remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes. Take the zest of the lemon and 3 basil leaves and add to the simple syrup. Add the strawberries to the pan. Place the entire the mixture in a plastic container and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Strain the strawberries from the syrup and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Place half the strawberry simple syrup on the stove. Add the balsamic vinegar and water to the point. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Remove from heat and cool. Place liquid in freezer until set.
Slice the strawberries and place them in a bowl. Roll the remaining basil leaves, like a cigar and slice them in to then ribbons. Place the basil across the strawberries. Remove the balsamic from the freezer. With a fork, scrape the sides of the bowl gathering all the balsamic ice. Place that around and atop the strawberries. Top the strawberries with the toasted peanut and serve the strawberry salad cold.
Larger strawberries require more cooking time and have less concentrated strawberry flavor.
You can use the strawberry simple syrup as a base for a cocktail or mocktail.
The strawberries are good to use for 2 days.
You may also blend them in to a puree for strawberry soup.
You can add thyme or other herbs like lavender to the mixture as well for more herbaceous flavors.
THE CAFE AT THE RITZ CARLTON, BUCKHEAD 3434 Peachtree Road Atlanta, GA 30326 (404) 237-2700