Plump; succulent and a deep shade of seduction. Strawberries are hard to resist. I've never met anyone who would say no to a fat and juicy bite into one of these beautiful fruits.When you hit the right season; where strawberries are at their peak, you get...sweetness... size.. amazing blooms in the strawberry fields.. The NotterSchool decided to check it out with an excursion.We headed out to Plant City; where the annual strawberry festival was taking place. The Plant City community proudly proclaims their home "The Winter Strawberry Capital of The World". It's funny how it could possibly be true! Nikki and I pulled off the highway only to find ourselves driving through 'berry-land'. Trinkets, houses and billboards were adorned with strawberry details, homes had strawberries by the trays displayed for sale on the porch, strawberry plantations, farms.. We were seeing delicious red spots hidden everywhere!
Chef James and the class made our way to the Parksdale family Hydrofarms to learn more about local strawberries and its growing techniques. We were shown the 3 varieties of common winter strawberries and how the Parksdale family had progressed with hydroponic technology for more efficient production of fruit. The students went on a taste test of the 3; camino real, festival and camirosa... My favourite was the camirosa. It had a nice texture and sweet juicy interior. We then went about picking a punnet of our favourite strawberries. The farm also grew more than just strawberries with hydroponics. Us nosey kids ran about discovering more delicious growth out back. From zuchinni flowers to succulent tomatoes and fragrant herbs... the all bloomed beautifully in this modern growing technique. I'm not certain what happened to this poor little baby though. It must have been picked by a bird and left unfertilized.Sabrina and Christina dug happily into their all famous strawberry shortcake. Many say; the strawberry festival experience isn't complete without the shortcake... but *shrug* I'm not much of a fan when it comes to a layer of cake topped with lots of jam and a mountain of cream.As Chef James and the our peers headed home for the day; Nikki and I made a little detour to check out the local festival scene! Food stalls, crafts and fair rides filled the arena. I even heard that famous local bands come here to perform at night. I was thrilled to see the many craft stalls and tiny hand made trinkets for sale. Lots were 'strawberry' themed as well! I treated my ears to a pretty pair of strawberries.As we traveled along the pathways in search of more adventures; the scent of snacks and candies lure us closer to colourful trailers filled with tempting delights! I have yet to sample the many southern delicacies I've heard so much about from my American friends; and this was the place. Deep-fried EVERYTHING! It really was! They had our regular fried chips, and steaks.. they had deep fried candy bars, deep fried pickles, deep fried funnel cakes, deep fried burgers, deep fried pork rind, deep fried blooming onions, deep fried cheesecake... Oh my ... it was cholesterol galore! I was surprised there weren't deep fried strawberries!For lunch, Nikki and I settled for something less naughty.. deep fried broccoli. *giggle* I know the fried bit counteracts its nutritious value..but *shrug* it's much less a guilty pleasure.We shared a bag of boiled peanuts and a tiny pouch of roasted pecans for protein! *hehe* We are so much in denial.....Well; at least we skipped all that cream!~ *wink*
A sweet southern lady had a chat with us as we chomped down on our tasty crisp broccoli...She left us with a little tidbit about the south's famous 3 G's : Grains, grease and gritz!
The next day.. Chef Mary and her team next door whipped up a little something for the class with the beautiful pickings the day before. The strawberry tartlet was sensational! I loved it! Double thumbs up for deliciousNEss!
While we're on the topic of strawberries... here's a little something I'd like to share with everyone. It's a clip from the movie Across the Universe. The musical is a tiny bit psychedelic and tripy towards the end; but I love it's artistic value. The music was heaps of fun too.. I mean who doesn't love tunes from the Beatles. Its a wonderful interpretation of the good ol classics.