|Strawberry Specialty Cocktail|
About three weeks ago while checking my email, I found an invitation to attend an event celebrating the California Strawberry. The event was hosted by the California Strawberry Commission, designed to educate the public about just what it takes to bring these summer delicacies from farm to table. Each course of the meal was to feature strawberries, and the Chef preparing the meal was (Score!) the renowned Michael Tusk of Quince. That was the icing on the cake, but if I’m honest, they had me at strawberries.
|Strawberries & Prosciutto|
Guests were treated to a menu designed by Chef Tusk specifically for the event. Beginning with a specialty cocktail: a mixture of pureed strawberries with a bit of campari, a hint of anise and enough selzer to bubble it up nicely. It was an intoxicating and refreshing beverage. The hors d’oeuvres were a cacophony of strawberry surprises. Among them: tiny arancini of fried strawberry goodness, a perfect fresh strawberry wrapped in a blanket of prosciutto and drizzled with a hint of balsamic.
But the magnificent strawberry and burrata pizzas that emerged from those wood burning ovens were the pièce de résistance: the creamy burrata melting into each perfect berry, the familiar toothsome crunch of the perfectly baked pizza dough— they were a culinary treat I will remember for some time to come. This was the kind of food that is so tasty you can’t stop consuming it because your brain wants your mouth to experience that thrill just one more time. At least that’s what my brain was telling me as I consumed almost an entire pizza. It seemed that over the course of the evening those ovens continued to produce the delectable treat on tray after tray; they came at me as relentlessly as circus performers exiting a clown car.
Just EAT it!
We wrapped up our evening with several delectable desserts during the seated portion of the presentation. Strawberries atop a creamy panacotta, a beautiful pistachio ice cream, with a light strawberry garnish over an airy meringue (like eating strawberry pistachio clouds). By now I was stuffed, yet my table mates and I managed a final slice of the last pizza making its way around the room. That pizza was one for the record books.
All in all, this was the kind of educational evening I’d love to repeat. A far cry from the sterile classroom of my youth. Perhaps that’s the solution for our schools. Serve up that knowledge with a platter of sweet, simple California strawberries. Too bad they’re only in season from April to October. (Though this is peak strawberry season in California, a reader points out that these days strawberries are harvested and available year-round from growers in Oxnard, Santa Maria and Orange County.)
Cotogna is a lovely restaurant. While my particular experience isn’t one that can be repeated, I can honestly suggest you check it out for yourself. Make some memories of your own. And do try the pizza.
490 Pacific Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94133
And for more info on the California Strawberry - the California Strawberry Commission’s website can be found here: