Seasonal strawberries, with a recipe.
Fragole, or strawberries, are in season at my local farmer's market. I buy them from Valerio Innocenti, who sells "unmedicated" produce from the family farm outside Firenze. Valerio's father, Torquato, was my muse; listening to him relate recipes for his produce inspired my book Red, White & Greens.
Although Torquato no longer comes to the market, his sons still work the garden and make the trip twice a week. The berries, in season for around a month, appear at the Innocenti stand nestled on strawberry leaves in a shallow wooden crate. Each client is offered a sample, impossible to resist. Sweet, fragrant, bright red throughout, with no hollow core and not even a hint of white, these berries are light years beyond the always-available supermarket specimens that masquerade as strawberries.
What do Italians do with strawberries? No tarts, no complicated desserts. They really only follow one recipe, unwritten because it's so easy, which is found in all regions of Italy during the short-but-sweet strawberry season. Everyone I spoke to affirmed that berries should be marinated in wine with sugar. No one, however, agreed on the kind of wine. Red wine is the only way to go, insisted the people from Toscana and Piemonte, whereas white is the wine of choice for those from Veneto and Friuli. Others recommended a light sparkling wine such as the fragrant Moscato D'Asti or popular Asti Spumante. Choose your wine, hurry out to the farmer's market for some berries, then try my Fragole con Vinorecipe for yourself.
-June 23, 1997
Fragole con Vino Recipe
1 pint local, seasonal strawberries
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar (or more, if you want to be really Italian)
1/2 cup quality wine (red, white or sparkling)
Clean the berries. Split or slice them into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar. Add wine, stir, and marinate for at least 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Lengthy soaking results in soggy berries.