On May 17, 2014, the California Strawberry Festival opened the gates to strawberry fans from across the land. As you enter, you are welcomed by the sweet aroma of strawberries freshly picked from the local farms in Oxnard. The beautiful red berries glistened as the sun rose high above Strawberry Meadows of College Park.
In the opening hours of the festival is the best time to stroll around and plan what to eat, what to buy, and what to see. Rose Avenue was lined with vendors offering everything from clothing to décor to artwork to food products. Local community groups and food vendors were advertising their strawberry spirit with concoctions like strawberry wine, strawberry beer, strawberry pizza, strawberry nachos, strawberry shortcake, and our favorite, strawberry smoothies. Not too sweet, not too tart, and ice cold to challenge the beginning of a very hot day.
Vying for shade, we watched the Strawberry Tart Toss. We were laughing so much as children threw strawberry tarts at their parents and siblings. The emcee was egging them on. Some of the children had pretty good aim as strawberries, cream, and pie crust exploded upon impact on unsuspecting faces. These folks will be snacking on strawberry tarts on their way home as it was all over the face, hair, and clothes. Talk about sticky sweet!
The show of the day was the “Berry Blast Off Recipe” Showdown. Two finalists had one hour to make their strawberry dishes before a panel of judges. Linda Quan of Los Angeles, CA made her Spicy Strawberry Five Spice Chicken Wings Appetizer. The chicken wings were fried to perfection – juicy and crispy enough on the outside. The sauce had enough strawberry for flavor yet enhanced with the Chinese Five Spice. Kate Evans of Oxnard, CA made Strawberry Spinach Salad with Grilled Cilantro Lime Shrimp, Peppered Glazed Pecans, and Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette. The salad was good, but I didn’t feel the strawberries were incorporated enough into the dish. They were sliced up in the salad but I could not decipher the strawberry flavor in the dressing. Also, my shrimp were undercooked. The moment of judgment was here. Linda Quan took home the grand prize of a 3-day, 2-night getaway vacation from Welk Resorts and a Cutco studio knife set. Kate Evans received an overnight stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Oxnard along with a dinner for two at Tierra Sur Restaurant at the Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard.
So much fun and food to be had at the California Strawberry Festival! Hope to see you next year!
For more information:
California Strawberry Festival
3250 S Rose Ave