To celebrate the start of summer the chefs at The Black Horse in Woburn and The Swan at Salford have been on the hunt for the perfect British strawberry.
In their quest for strawberries that are deliciously sweet and full of flavour, blushingly red and juicy and with a perfect heart shape, they ended up in rural Staffordshire on Lower Ruele Farm.
Here they discovered that it’s all down to the variety, and how the plants are nurtured, that produces the pick of the crop.
And so that everyone can make the most of this superb summer produce, they have come up with a special way of serving it - Dip Your Own Strawberries.
“Walking into the poly tunnels we were met with a blaze of colour from the pops of red dotted along as far as the eye could see,” says Black Horse head chef Jonathan Aylard.
“We were just as struck by the way the strawberries are grown along rows of narrow table tops where the tender young fruits can gently ripen in the warm air before being picked from their delicate green stalks. Harvesting is done over several days, when each berry is deemed to be perfectly ripe, sweet and ready to eat.
“Unable to resist popping one of the beautiful berries into our mouths, we discovered that it is nature, as well as nurture, that plays a part in growing the finest fruit.
“Only Driscoll’s Amesti strawberries are grown here, a modern breed chosen because of the intensity of flavour, colour and shape of the strawberries it yields. Runners are produced in Holland from the high quality plant tips and lovingly tended here on the farm in ideal strawberry growing conditions. The result is simply the perfect strawberry,” he says.
After picking the perfect strawberries, the chefs went one better to bring the best of British summer to the pub, creating an irresistible dessert of Dip Your Own Strawberries.
Into one big pot goes a generous helping of large, juicy red strawberries; into another, a glug of gorgeous, velvety Valrhona chocolate sauce and one final pot a dollop of sweet Chantilly cream.
The whole lot goes onto a board ready for you to dip yourself, with a pile of crumbly shortbread biscuits that are the perfect partner to the luscious fruit and dips.
“The best British strawberries we could find, rich chocolate sauce and unctuous cream with the crunch of biscuits on the side are the perfect ingredients for the perfect dish,” says Jonathan.
“It’s the best of British all in one place, and the best summer dish. It’s simply delicious. But as with all good things, it won’t be around for long so catch it while you can!”
Dip Your Own Strawberries are being served at both The Black Horse in Woburn and The Swan at Salford from now until the end of July, priced £5.75.
To book a table, go to www.blackhorsewoburn.co.uk or www.swansalford.co.uk.