With the recent warm winter, Florida’s strawberry farmers have yielded a huge harvest this season resulting in lower prices (and also lower profits) for the red gems. Florida’s strawberries account for over 15 percent of the nation’s strawberry and the one’s in Plant City in Hillsborough County make up a large bulk of that number.
The annual Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City (just out side of Tampa) is still under way until this Sunday March 11, so make sure you check it out if you haven’t already. It’s old-time Americana, started way back in the 1930s by the Plant City Lions Club. There’s a carnival/fair type atmosphere with plenty of strawberry shortcakes, preserves, and carnival rides to go around, and even music performances (Reba is closing out the show this Sunday night) and a Miss Florida Strawberry Festival pageant. You can buy fresh strawberries all along the roadside or visit the famous Parksdale Farm Market nearby to pick up some strawberries there. For more information check it out here: http://www.flstrawberryfestival.com
Locally you can pick your own strawberries at Pappy’s Patch U-Pick Strawberry Farm in Oviedo, Florida at 700 Florida Avenue, Oviedo Florida. They are $2.50 a lb this season and you can call them for hours at 407.366.8512 or visit their facebook page. They are usually open 1pm-4pm.
Chefs in our local restaurant scene have been keen to keep their eye on the strawberry season’s peak. The following are some wonderful, sweet dishes that you can order that use local Plant City strawberries as their featured ingredient:
The Ravenous Pig’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
The Ravenous Pig’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp is made with Plant City Strawberries and are available about 3 weeks of the year. They are made with an almond streusel, and topped with toffee crunch ice cream. The strawberries cook inside leaving a very tart and delightful sweet taste to the crisp. Patrons call and ask and rave about this dish all year round, waiting for the window when this crisp is back in town. Check them out at http://theravenouspig.com/
The Fork in the Road Food Truck’s Strawberry Souffle Cheesecake
The Fork in the Road Food Truck’s Pastry Chef Alan Clapsaddle creates their version of the Plant City Strawberry Shortcake and also a Strawberry souffle cheesecake. The lusciously soft souffle cheesecake has a snickerdoodle cookie base and topped with a chantilly creme home-made with rum and Chinese 5-spice, and topped with some local Winter Park honey. Visit them at http://forkintherd.com/ and on twitter @forkintherdlive and follow them on facebook for updates.
K Restaurant and Wine Bar’s has a dessert dish made with Florida Strawberries on top of a chocolate truffle ganache.
Chef Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant’s Florida Strawberry Shortcake in A Jar
Check them out at http://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Restaurant-Wine-Bar/106618472590
Get out there and enjoy Florida’s Strawberries while they are in season!