This is one of those where-do-I-put-it-or-is-it-really-even-appropriate-for-chowhound posts.
Strawberries have come in season here in Modesto, CA with a bang, something I look forward to each year. I will put the best of local Modesto strawberries up against the best of anywhere in the state. For many years, coastal berries have been regarded as the superior product--Watsonville has its adherents, so does SLO. Nope, Modesto berries are even better.
Plump but not huge (I don't like those hardball sized objects that are palmed off as a luxury--generally the taste & texture are consistent with that comparison as well. A red that says "eat me now", and an aroma coming off the box that you can smell at 20 paces, and when you close in on it is heady and almost overwhelming. Bite in and the juice is nectar, the berry has a yielding firmness, the overall experience is utterly hedonistic. We have the remains of a half-crate in the 'fridge now and I'll be having a few more later. Of course they are absolutely best just out of the field, or at least at room temp. These cold ones will also be cut over cereal tomorrow.
The funny thing is, until just a few years ago we had no commercial strawberry fields here, and now they are all around the periphery of town. Generally, the rise of this "industry" has seemed to coincide with the settlement in this area of many Southeast Asian refugees. These folks find a little plot of land, plant berries, put up a roadside stand, and are on the capitalist path. And we all are blessed.
The best strawberries in Modesto? That would have to be the little patch at the southwest corner of Carpenter Rd. & California Ave. I can't drive by, the car just automatically pulls over.
Mmmm...time to go have a few!
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