In Vermont, strawberry season is a yearly rite of passage. It balances perfectly on the edge of Spring and Summer, marrying the two seasons into one seamless event. So by the time the signs come down for pick your own strawberries and go up for raspberries and blueberries, you hardly notice that it is full-on Summer, and Spring is long gone. Like most seasons in Vermont we hold our breath patiently for the sweet rubies to arrive, and when they finally do we gorge ourselves. It’s natural. If you’re smart and think ahead, you will can and jar the little jewels to enjoy them later when the snow has begun to fall and the only things coming out of the ground are hard little tubers. But I have no will power, and there will be none left over after they are cooked into pies, mashed into drinks, frozen into popsicles, cut into salads and eaten over the sink as the juice drips down my chin. It will be another year before I see the likes of them.
In Texas, where I’m from, there’s a little town that holds these little fruits up to the sky and says, “These are special…come eat them” . Poteet, Texas has a population about 3400, but every year in April the town swells as they hold their annual Poteet Strawberry Festival. We used to go every year when I was young. My favorite was the Strawberry Parade, where the Princess of Poteet would wave to us from atop a float wearing a large strawberry in place of a crown (I still want one) while we drank strawberry slushies, staining our shirts.
The Poteet Special is, of course, a nod to the town that holds strawberries in the regard they deserve. Last time I looked on their website it was only 278 days, 7 hours, 1 minute, and 56 seconds ’till the next Poteet Strawberry Festival. I guess we’ll just have to wait.
1 1/2 oz. Titos Vodka (from Austin, TX)
2 oz. Strawberry Puree *
1/4 oz. Black Pepper Syrup **
Cilantro & Mint
Muddle 6-7 leaves of cilantro and 2-3 leaves of mint with vodka.
Add strawberry puree, black pepper syrup and squeeze of lime.
Shake with ice and pour back into glass with tumbled ice. Add ice if needed.
Top with Prosecco and garnish with cilantro flowers, or cilantro leaves
Macerate strawberries with a little sugar, just to release juices (about 20 minutes)
Puree until smooth
**Black Pepper Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 T. whole black peppercorns
Bring to a boil and then simmer until all sugar is dissolved and black pepper is infused to desired potency.