Hear ye, hear ye! There are local strawberries at the NYC farmer’s markets! Thank the fruit gods, that rhubarb bridge really did bring us to summer sweets, and more quickly than I had imagined. I had gone to the Union Square Greenmarket last Friday for asparagus and ramps for an upcoming risotto I’m cooking up, but there was no way I was forgoing those gorgeous scarlet gems when I stumbled upon them. And the Pennsylvania farmer who prominently displayed them (the only one that day) took credit cards, which solved my “I only brought $15” conundrum, hallelujah. Six dollars for one pint and $10 for two wouldn’t be a bargain for giant strawberries trucked from across the country, but for small, sweet, tender berries grown locally and only just picked, that $10 was money well-spent. I brought them home after a couple of hours walking around downtown, and when I removed them from the bag I was reminded how delicate local berries can be. They needed to be consumed or baked into something lovely, stat. Good thing the fella and I were going to my baby nephew’s (um, and brother and sister-in-law’s) house for pizza Friday. Why yes, I would make us some strawberry balsamic basil hand pies for dessert.
It’s a day to celebrate. A day to rejoice. A day to slick the sweat off your brow and smile because it’s here, it’s time. It’s the day the first kirby cucumbers arrive at the farmer’s market, or, if you’re lucky, begin to grow behind beautiful yellow blossoms in your backyard. It is, for me, the happiest day of the year.
If you have to ask why, you probably have never had a good kirby — or any kirby at all. You might even be asking: what the hell is a kirby? Fear not, I’m here to show you the way. What they are: pickling cucumbers; small, slightly sweet, crunchy. What they’re not: gigantic, waxy, seedy, watery. Kirbies are perfect peeled, sliced, and salted, especially before they hit the fridge and still taste of summer sun. They’re also perfect as these amazing refrigerator pickles.