Berry Berry Good

BY Sarah Brehm

The average person eats .08 pounds of blackberries .22 pounds of raspberries and 4.5 pounds of strawberries each year. Yet few of us know that the strawberry isnt a “true berry ” and that neither is the raspberry nor the blackberry. (The tomato is but thats a discussion for another day.) There are “true berries” and “modified berries” and berries that botanically speaking arent really berries at all. These berries can be “drupes ” “pomes ” “compound fruits” and “accessory fruits.” While the whole thing is all berry confusing its also berry good and berry good for you.

A berry is defined as a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary where the seeds are usually found in the flesh of the ovary. For most of us though a berry is any small edible fruit thats usually juicy round or semi-oblong and tastes either sweet or sour. Berries dont have pits but seeds can be common. This “true berry” group includes such stalwarts as the blueberry cranberry grape banana and watermelon. The strawberry is classified as an accessory fruit because what we eat is not generated by the ovary. The raspberry and blackberry are classified as compound fruits because the edible fruit develops from many ovaries. Each lobe of the raspberry is a single fruit but they are joined together to form one berry. Although there are nearly as many definitions as there are berries theres one thing that all these little miracles have in common: People have been enjoying them in all their brilliant colors shapes and sizes for a berry berry long time.

The ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated strawberries in their gardens; Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) author of Natural History mentions the fruit of the strawberry fraga as a natural product of Italy. Native Americans and early settlers ate fresh blueberries and also used them for medicinal purposes treating coughs and digestive problems and as a relaxant during childbirth.

There are many health benefits to berries which makes them a terrific must-eat addition to your everyday diet. Blueberries have a high number of antioxidants that boost the immune system. Strawberries can dissolve tartar on teeth and help keep eyes clean of free radicals molecules that damage cells. Raspberries are full of fiber and magnesium which can help you feel fuller and increase your metabolic rate.

Medical historical and botanical reasons aside perhaps the best reason to eat fresh summer berries is because they taste so incredible literally bursting with sweet juicy goodness. Put them in salad dressings smoothies cakes and more and be amazed at how much pure flavor results. No matter what youre craving berries are a sweet healthy addition to any meal. Looking for a little inspiration? These four local restaurants are happy to help you have a berry good day!

Temptations – Raspberry Poppy Seed Dressing & Strawberry Salad

For 26 years Temptations (3501 Oleander Drive Suite 13 910-763-6662) has lived up to its name tantalizing taste buds with chocolate truffles gourmet sandwiches and crowd-pleasing salads some of which are prepared with their fantastic raspberry poppy seed dressing. Served on the Bleu Pear Salad fresh pears bleu cheese grapes and candied pecans and the Chicken Orange Pecan Salad chicken mandarin oranges and candied pecans the raspberry poppy seed dressing is always the star of the show.

What if youre not having a raspberry day? What if youre having a strawberry day? No worries; Temptations has your berry. The Strawberry Salad fresh strawberries bacon feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette is a summertime treat that cant be beat.

Caffe Phoenix – Strawberry Short Stack

Caffe Phoenix has been blazing a Cape Fear culinary trail since 1989 when they were the first true fine-dining experience to open in Historic Downtown Wilmington. Serving fabulous Mediterranean cuisine with an original flair they are to this berry day famous for luxurious lunches and dinners and for berry special Sunday brunches. Visit them on Sundays at their new location 32 N. Front Street (910-343-1395) and experience the fruity wonder of their Strawberry Short Stack. “We use house-made whipped cream ” says Dylan Morgan kitchen manager “and fresh sliced strawberries piled on buttermilk pancakes.” Is it Sunday yet?


Deluxe – Chocolate and Raspberry Truffle Cake & Strawberry Salad

If we could only use one word to describe the famously delicious Deluxe (114 Market Street 910-251-0333) that word would be fresh. Executive chef Trinity Hunt makes it his mission to find the freshest local ingredients for his culinary creations. Hunt is a regular customer of Lewis Farms Black River Organic Farms and Shelton Herb Farms among other local respected growers so when he uses fruit to make a dish special you know its going to be sweet delicious local natural and what else fresh. His seasonal Strawberry Salad made with fresh strawberries jumbo lump crab meat pecans organic spinach and goat cheese is wildly popular and yet straightforward: “It has simple elements that come together nicely ” the chef says. His Chocolate and Raspberry Truffle Cake is fabulous: rich chocolate mingles with a sweet raspberry coulis and the raspberry seeds add a crunchy texture.

Atlanta Bread Company – Fresh Fruit Smoothies

Atlanta Bread Company (6886 Main Street 910-509-2844) at Mayfaire Town Center offers more than just made-fresh-daily bread and pastries. After a long hard day of shopping Atlanta Bread has the perfect pick-me-up to keep you cool and get you ready for round two: a delicious nutritious fresh fruit smoothie strawberry strawberry-banana or raspberry-mango-strawberry. “Our smoothies are made with just apple juice and fresh fruit ” says co-owner Jon Bibb. “About eight ounces of fruit goes into each thick creamy smoothie.” The verdict: This is one sweet treat you wont feel guilty about.