I always look forward to my husband’s return from an early-morning visit to our local fruit market in Bristol.
I give him a list of all the things we need and he has the task of hunting high and low for the freshest and highest quality produce available. This is not always an easy task of course!
Although my favourite items are those on my list, I also really look forward to the unexpected items he brings back for me. Of course he can always call me if he is not sure about something but he likes to surprise me and bring me something unusual that is especially beautiful.
So I wait patiently for his return and think about what I would like to eat that day. The weather plays a very important part, as well as which day of the week it is and the latest food magazines, cookery books and blogs that I have been reading.
Last Friday morning was no different. I was cooking my coconut macaroons, finishing off our apple, vanilla and lemon cake when James arrived with a lovely array of peppers, aubergines just the right size, fantastic plum tomatoes as well as all the other must-have items on the list.
My heart raced however when I realised that the last box had something extra special, charming English strawberries in pristine plexy boxes. They were so cute, quite small but perfectly formed. With a box in my hand I smiled at James who in the meantime was making himself a much needed double espresso.
After tasting them there was only one question left – what to prepare with these fine specimens? Naturally they taste much better than anything imported, but they were not yet quite as sweet as they would be in just a few weeks time. I needed something to enhance their flavour and make them even more comforting for this first day in June that had started with a very shy sun and a nippy wind.
James and I were discussing Italian-inspired dishes but it was clear that none of them quite fitted the bill. He wanted something closer to home, or should I say to the heart, something that was able to bring back lovely childhood memories.
A splash of ten-year old balsamic vinegar to enhance their flavour gave them the real Italian twist I was looking for so, after a few twists and turns here was the perfect recipe – Gourmet strawberry mini-muffins with a balsamic vinegar, acacia honey and pink pepper glacé.