The strawberries this year are recalcitrant. They have taken one look at the rain and found there no incentive to put on a good showing since Wimbledon will undoubtedly be rained off and so the nation won’t be requiring any strawberries.
As a general rule, the veg patch is usually quite happy about warm rain, growing lush and green and rocketing to jungle-like proportions. But enough is enough and everyone, me included, is in need of some sunshine. The leafy green gang, like spinach, is fine, but anything that fruits – berries, courgettes, beans – needs sun. Without it, they languish and are weak to invaders. And none more so than the strawberries which, stuck in their pinky, half-ripe and damp state, have been beset by tiny black slugs and militant woodlice. As we speak, armies of them are digging neat trenches across the pale flesh of my half-cooked berries. Marauding legions are, this very minute, infiltrating the sodden straw bedding I so hopefully applied, and chomping away at the fruit from underneath.
But all is not lost. Some are surviving the onslaught and a few have even ripened. It is just enough to make some strawberry ice-cream but I have augmented it with a dollop of strawberry jam, a little extra sweetness against the rain.
Incidentally, this is the dessert I’ll be serving at my next supper club on Thursday 11thJuly. It’s a special supper club in partnership with Waitrose and I’ll be popping up in their Banbury store café. The menu will showcase organic, seasonal produce from Waitrose farmers and we’ll be serving Waitrose wine to match each course. Tickets are £45 and since it’s a school night we’ll start at 6pm and finish by 9pm. As usual, I’ll talk about the food and how it’s cooked before we eat and everyone will be sat on a big communal table. Menu, info and booking here. Do come, to taste this ice-cream if nothing else.