What did you do for Mother's Day? My parents and I went for our favorite kind of brunch: bagels, lox, and cream cheese. It's the food we're hardwired to eat. We drove over to Del Mar for deli at Milton's and afterwards I figured Mom would enjoy a trip to Chino Farms since we were already on Via de la Valle.
As we approached the farm, we could see the corn stalks in the fields, but they weren't towering very high yet, so we knew that corn wasn't going to be in the stands, but oh, my other Chino favorite was. Strawberries. Not just the large variety they grow, truly sweet and meaty with long stems still attached, but the smaller French variety, which just takes strawberry flavor to even sweeter heights.
These are strawberries meant to be eaten the day they are picked. We didn't even wait to get back to my parents' kitchen before digging in, remembering a similar experience over 30 years ago when we stopped at Rose Ave. in Oxnard on our way home to L.A. from visiting my sister at U.C. Santa Barbara. There was a stand there that sold strawberries by the flat. Huge, juicy, sweet berries with a natural liqueur that made us feel drunk. Chino Farms brought those delightful memories back as we devoured their flawless berries.
I left three baskets with my folks and took the other three home but couldn't finish them that day. So, on Monday, with a ball of burrata from Taste Cheese in the fridge, sorrel in my garden, and new olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Baker & Olive in the pantry I realized I had a spring salad ready to be created.
Sometimes you just have to let the ingredients sing their own song and not fuss with them. So, all I did was wash the berries and the sorrel, toast some pine nuts, slice the burrata and a small red onion, and blend together the lemon-infused olive oil and violet balsamic--both so thick you don't need an emulsifying agent like mustard to make a dressing.
I tore up the sour sorrel leaves and sprinkled the rest of the ingredients over them. It doesn't get much easier--or fresher. Add a toasted sourdough roll to sop up the oil and vinegar left on the plate and that's lunch.
Here's to spring and here's to the Chinos, who never fail to thrill with their gorgeous produce!