Big red

SN&R Illustration By Mark Stivers

Local strawberries aren’t ripe yet, but don’t turn up your nose just because the baskets at the farmers’ market these days are coming from Santa Maria or San Diego. For some reason, this year the berries seem extra juicy; maybe I was just pining for some fresh fruit, but the perky sight of these ruby-hued beauties has been tonic for my soul. And they have a bright, heady fragrance and taste—not quite so sugary as a Juneberry, but dulcet enough to play nicely with plain yogurt or to sink one’s teeth into all on their own. Rhubarb, the best friend of the berry, has been a little scarce this year (or maybe I’m just looking at the wrong markets), but this weekend I’ll find some, come what may, and turn it into a compote, mix it with fresh quartered berries and make early-season shortcakes, with flaky biscuits and whipped crème fraîche. If that’s not spring on a plate, I don’t know what is.