June was slightly rainy and not so hot, perfect for plump strawberries. July, however, was hot and very dry which resulted in super-sweet but rather tiny strawberries.
I'll let you in on a little secret - the ugliest strawberries are often the tastiest. They look pale and withered compared to the usual large and fleshy heroes but make no mistake, these ugmos are bursting wih flavour. The taste is as if the sweetness and aromas of ten strawberries have been crammed into one. Yes, they are not as juicy as the water-laden perfectly plump supermodel strawberries but they taste amazing.
But you will not find these ugly babies on the shelves of a supermarket, not even when rifling through the isles of a fancy farmers' market, as they are considered very ugly. And even more likely so, commercial strawberry growers (farmers) with their automatic fertilising and watering systems would never even grow such gems as these require a dry and sunny spell resulting in firmer and smaller berries full of flavour. Smaller berries would mean less money so they make sure their plants stay well watered.
You can recognise these palate-tinglers by some simple characteristics - very firm flesh, protruding achenes aka "seeds", elevated calyx, somewhat anemic colour (or even downright hideous greenish-whitish hue) and possible splitting. See examples above.
Strawberry feta bruschette
A quarter of a baguette
100g feta cheese
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
fresh mint and basil leaves
Cut the baguette into 1cm thick slices. Brush with oil and grill until golden on one side.
Slice the feta and arrange on hot toasts. Drizzle with honey.
Slice or quarter the strawberries, depending on size, and pile on the feta. Add a handful of mint and basil leaves. Drizzle some balsamic on top.
Serve straight away.