I am slotting this posting on strawberries, the grand dame of Northwest fruit, in just under the wire. We are at the end of a season that started the earliest it has in a decade. Northwest gardening has been a crapshoot this year, with weather switching capriciously from cool to hot, and back again. My lettuces did nothing for a month except amuse slugs and then ka-pow! they were spindly, bitter trees. Everything bolted. But berries we got, and berries we shall consume, in copious, indigestion-inducing amounts.
I suppose I could say there are so many things you can do with strawberries, but why bother? Just eat them: off the vine, out of the bowl, on your cereal, in bed…However. I made strawberry shortcake for my dad for Father’s Day because I have come to think of it as the traditional Dad’s day dessert. It’s also easy, and brings together the three pillars of life: biscuits, whipped cream and berries. But beyond that I was planning on gorging myself on them, unadorned and even unwashed, (the berries, not me) until our Australian friends showed up and I realized I couldn’t vacation with them without paying homage to their homeland by way of a pavlova, the national dessert of down under!
Their visit was a happy confluence, not least because there is no better time to bake a pav than when our town is buried under an avalanche of strawberries. Other berries are good on pavlova – which is a type of meringue – I will even eat it with kiwi and mango if need be. But strawberries…the site of them gracing the mound of whipped cream atop the pav will make you feel among the blessed.
Akin to cat-skinning, there is more than one way to make a pavlova, just mark my words, Eaters: follow the recipe carefully the first time through (yes, this is me talking, no one has hijacked my blog). Resist the urge to go maverick. After one success, you can experiment with sugar reduction and what have you. Give this recipe a whirl and let me know how it goes. I wish I could say that the glorious snowy mound you will view through your oven door is indicative of the end result but alas, the sun at noon is the sun declining. Your pav will crash and I can only say I am sorry, but it is the way of all pavs.
Marnie, my antipodean friend, marvelous cook, and devoted eater, says that she wishes she could lay her head down on a pavlova so she could dream of eating a pavlova. Then, once she awakened and left off munching on her dream pavlova, she could commence eating the real one. Talk about national pride. Dream big, Eaters!