Ripe for Picking

It’s always a berry good summer for Rebecca Weitzman, executive chef of New York City’s Clarkson.

I grew up in Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, with a yard filled with blackberry bushes. We had tons of strawberries and a cherry tree, too. We’d run around, pick berries and then mom would cook. She’d do a lot of desserts, pies and jams—nothing too savory. For me, I love making savory dishes with fruit.

I always like to balance out the sweetness of berries with vinegar or spice. Thyme and melon pair really well. Basil works perfectly with strawberries, and I love watermelon and basil together.

A lot of times when you add sugar to fruit it becomes too “desserty.” One of our signature dishes is our housemade burrata, served with crispy eggplant and fruit mostarda. I’ll use gooseberries, which are in the tomatillo family and not technically berries, or tart black raspberries. Both work especially well in this traditional Italian condiment, which is made by cooking down fruit with vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds and dry mustard.  

We also serve a goat cheese and black pepper panna cotta with strawberries, basil and saba as a cheese course. I love Tristar strawberries—they’re hybrids, and only a few farmers grow them. They’re amazing, super juicy with great flavor. Still, my favorite berries are blackberries. I make a vanilla bean-blackberry semifreddo, garnished with candied sage and sage syrup. It’s bright, but not too sweet. To me, it tastes just like summer.

How to Pair Berries & Wine

Sparkling rosé produced from Pinot Noir pairs well with Tristar strawberries

Cerasuolo di Vittoria, served slightly chilled, goes well with dark fruits, like blackberries or mulberries 

Albariño, Arneis and Garganega are all good matches for blueberries

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