Synonymous with summer, the Jersey strawberry season is now in full swing. Compare local strawbs to the imported ones – mainly Dutch – and there?s no contest. Picked when they are very hard and unripe, for transporting, and then exposed to ethylene gas to colour them up, they are watery and tasteless and although they?re cheaper, you?re really better off not bothering. Our homegrown fruit is a different matter. Joe Freire grows 120 tonnes a season on his farm in St Lawrence and supplies only locally. His plants are grown outside in soil, as they should be, and picked when deep red and ripe. Try mixing a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (for real) with a tablespoon of caster sugar and pour over your bowl of halved strawberries. Leave to macerate for a couple of hours at room temperature and the flavours will heightened and leave you with sensually sweet, grown up fruit. Serve with a heavenly dollop of Jersey cream.
The Classic Herd has gone organic. Julia and Darren Quenault run Jersey?s only independent dairy and have been committed to producing fresh, local, seasonal produce and diversifying the range from their own herd. They set up their farm shop 18 months ago in a beautiful old granite barn on the farm in St Peter and it is an inspiration of diversification. They sell their own expanding range of delicious cheeses – bries, camemberts, soft cheeses, an award-winning blue and most recently, Jersey Cache, a mellow hard cheese based on a raclette recipe. The cheeses are made by Julia across the yard in their purpose built facility with state of the art equipment and carefully regulated temperatures and humidity (never was there a better reason to get into white wellies and a hair net). Then there?s cream, double, single and heavenly thick yellow clotted cream, an excellent range of yoghurts, five flavours of ice cream and all using the best organic milk.
Julia said, ?Going organic has always been part of our plan, we are artisan producers for a niche market and what we do is all about quality.? Soon to join the organic dairy products, is their beef and pork. They started rearing veal calves and then added pigs to their stock when they found that they love the whey from the cheese process and that has led to sausages in all sorts of flavours
Top chefs on the Island, who are committed to quality local produce, have sourced Classic Herd products since the beginning. The Atlantic hotel is a big fan as is Sirocco. The Menu de Terroir has been good for Classic Herd too, bringing new restaurants through the door – Cafe Jac, the Tenby, Ad lib and the Bay Tree have their goodies on the menu.