SUMMER'S CULINARY CHAMELEON: Strawberries have a way of staying on our shelves and in our food-loving hearts year-round, mostly due to preservatives and jams and ice creams and those products in which it makes a cameo. But a truly fresh berry's time to shine -- or glisten, perhaps, is more accurate -- is late spring and early summer. That's when the cameos take a back seat to bowls of berries without another ingredient added. That's when strawberries begin to show up atop cakes -- how can you make a Fourth of July flag cake without strawberries for the red stripes? -- and in other summery foodstuffs, like sorbets and ices. And that's when Southern California's trio of tasty strawberry fests have their day. Or days, rather; the California Strawberry Festival of Oxnard wrapped on May 19, but Garden Grove and Vista are still ahead.
STRAWBERRY RUN AND BEYOND: The Vista festival, which is set for Sunday, May 26, has a sporty component in the Strawberry Run, which tops out at 10k (but offers a few shorter routes). A costume contest, tunes, and strawberry-based cooking contests are also on the schedule, as is a beer garden and a homebrew festival. Will you try strawberry beer there? Have you tried strawberry beer before? It's pretty good, but then that is a beverage that tends to blend well with natural flavors, even offbeat ones.
AND IN GARDEN GROVE: The Garden Grove Strawberry Festival, a 4-dayer from the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend through to Monday, has a lot going, but probably its biggest highlight is the cutting of the ginormous strawberry cake on Friday evening. If ginormous strawberry cakes are your special thing, you know where to be on Friday, May 24.