• Posted by Califia Suntree on July 6th, 2010, 1:37 PM

    Summer is my favorite food season. I know, I know–I just said that spring was my favorite. But I was just caught up in the lamb and peas and fava beans. I’ve also repeatedly claimed the fall as my favorite–all that squash, and pie!–and winter, since I love pot roast and potatoes. But in summer, we grow our own bounty chez moi, and there’s just nothing can beat that.

    One of our annual harvests is the olallieberry, which winds delicately around our patio and every year gives us just enough berries to top our cereal or desserts. (An almond-milk blancmange I recently concocted was a natural fit.) I was first introduced to olallieberries when I was a kid and spent summers in Santa Cruz. We made a pilgrimage most Julys to Phipps Farm in Pescadero, CA, where we ate and picked our way through the day, and then went home purple-faced to stuff our freezer full of berries for the year to come.

    If you’ve not had the pleasure of sampling this unique little berry, it is related to the blackberry, but tarter and lighter in flavor, with an incredibly short and fragile growing season. They only grow in Northern California, Oregon, and parts of Washington, and though olallie means berry in Chinook, they are actually a hybrid cooked up in 1935 by the USDA–the spawn of loganberry and youngberry, which are in turn the spawn of blackberry and raspberry and blackberry and dewberry, respectively. (It’s downright Biblical, this berry business! “And yea, olallie begat marionberry, and it was good.”)

    If you get your hands on some olallies, the Phipps website is a treasure trove of excellent recipes. My favorite? Olallieberry ice cream. Rich, purple, and the most delicious thing you will ever, ever eat.

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