It’s strawberry season in France - and it’s about time too. After the gray and cold of the French winter, strawberries mean real spring and almost summer have arrived. Yesterday, the local village market here in Provence was overflowing with the juicy red fruit. This vendor had dozens of barquettes of strawberries for sale. I couldn’t help buying two or three.

 

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Pendant la saison (during the season), I have des fraises every morning for breakfast. Ce matin, I enjoyed some with yogurt while perusing the latest edition of the French cooking magazine “Elle à table”. Of course, the main feature is all about strawberries. Entitled “Un amour de fraise: Votre fruit préféré est de retour” – ‘For the love of strawberries; Your favorite fruit is back,’ the article offered both sweet and savory (!) recipes using strawberries. I think the editor was reading my mind.

  

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You also know it’s strawberry season here in France as just about every restaurant, brasserie or bistrot is featuring a strawberry dessert du jour (dessert of the day) right about now. After church this past Sunday, my husband and I had a leisurely lunch at a restaurant on the village square. The Provence sun and blue sky were heavenly as was the featured fraisier cake for dessert. Normally, we’re not big sweet eaters but you wouldn’t know it after we ate every bite of the strawberry cream cake – and we each had our own!

 

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A week before, I was hosting a lovely group of ladies from a Texas garden club at this year’s garden festival at the Domaine de Chaumont in the Loire Valley. For our fabulous Sunday lunch, another wonderful fraisier cake made an appearance but with a creatively curvy twist…

 

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And during our garden tour week, I also managed to take care of a nice tarte aux fraises at Angelina, the ‘grande dame’ of tea salons in Paris. While the array of other desserts was oh-so-tempting including their signature Mont Blanc pâtisserie, I just had to have the strawberry tart. Accompanied by a luscious crème de pistache (pistachio cream), it was divine.

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But the pièce de résistance (showpiece) this fraise season was the wild strawberry éclair at the Michelin-starred Le Pré Catelan a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t even the real dessert – that came before. This was part of the mignardises which are the ‘little sweet things’ offered after the main dessert at upscale French restaurants. The fact that this was a strawberry éclair – normally you see chocolate or coffee versions – and then that it was made of fraises des bois (wild strawberries) was absolutely over the top. This was by far the best dessert I’ve had in ages - and an exquisite way to celebrate the French strawberry season this year!

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NB: For a previous French Affaires’ article on the French strawberry season in 2011 complete with the Le Figaro newspaper ‘best strawberry tart competition’ info, please click here. Enjoy!