On the rare occasion that temperatures soar into the 90s on a Saturday (May 16) in San Francisco you can expect to find people basking in Dolores Park or soaking up rays at Baker Beach. In fact, the last place you would expect to find anyone might be the cellar of Macy’s in Union Square… unless, of course, it’s strawberry week (May 14-24) and there are free strawberries, a famous chef (Bruce Hill of Bix Restaurant and Pizzeria Picco & Wine Bar), a foxy farmer (Toby Hastings of Free Spirit Farms), and a bad ass bartender (Christa Manalo of Beretta).
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Yes in deed, you will find strawberries gracing the pages of menus and cocktail lists all over town. In the demonstration kitchen in Macy’s Cellar (where audience members can watch, learn and ask questions), Bruce Hill made his arugula salad with toasted almonds, ricotta salata, and manodori balsamico and a panacotta topped with fresh strawberries. Christa Manalo exhibited her mixology prowess with her “Summertime Fizz” (fresh strawberries, basil, homemade rhubarb syrup, fresh lemon juice and egg white-YUM!!!!) with the help of yours truly (you can see me in the back shaking up samples for the audience) all with organically grown (and hand-picked) strawberries from smoking hot Davis farmer Toby Hastings, who graciously addressed the benefits of organic farming (he also rides his bike, five days a week, 11 mi from Davis to his farm in Winters to reduce his carbon footprint).
Side note: even though strawberry week ends May 24 (hurry!) the season lasts until the end of July.