There’s a strawberry grower down the road who explained to me the math calculation of light hours of growing time to get a perfect crop of strawberries to Wimbledon for the Championships! I cannot explain it to you, except to say that there is no luck involved whatsoever! Wimbledon without strawberries would be like tennis without nets! These are some of my favourite strawberry recipes - they won’t keep you in the kitchen when you should be watching tennis - and my suggested love matches of whisky to go with each dish!
To print or download each recipe, just click on the picture.
Start your Wimbledon day with a Strawberry Croissant, quick and easy for breakfast or as a snack at anytime. I only advocate whisky at breakfast when there is snow on the ground, but a whisky highball made with Monkey Shoulder (about £25 for 70cl), Fever Tree ginger ale, a little cranberry juice and some mint (add a sugar cube and ice if you wish) is great with this croissant. You decide the proportions according to your taste: the Monkey Shoulder adds a depth of flavour and a meatiness. It is a blend of three Speyside whiskies and is a modern spirit developed for cocktails. It is a favourite of mine for long drinks.
Salmon with strawberry sauce still raises eyebrows when served but it is always a hit. I have been making it for at least 25 years and still think it is one of my boldest and simplest recipes. The tarragon adds a slight flavour of aniseed which suggested to me a match with Great King Street Artist’s Blend from Compass Box, and it works perfectly. This is an elegant whisky, full of character but smooth, rich and deep in flavour. I find a hint of pastis, a liquorice cum aniseed, which picks up the tarragon in the sauce and cuts through the richness of the salmon. Think Bjorn Borg…
Strawberries for Sharing is sort of an Eton Mess but with added cake, which makes it more substantial. I always include custard in my Messes (!) which adds a touch of vanilla and paves the way for a whisky match. I am choosing a wild card, a new name but one set to become a great player to match this dish - The Hielan 8yo from GlenDronach (about £33 for 70cl). This new release from an award-winning distillery is matured in ex-bourbon barrels and then sherry casks. There is a lightness from youth; vanilla/butterscotch/fudge notes to pick up the sweetness of the cake and custard and a pepperiness to complement the strawberries. A deuce of a good match.
Of course you cannot write about strawberries and Wimbledon without mentioning ice cream, and of all the homemade fruit ices strawberry is the easiest to make. Black pepper was a seasoning for strawberries long before sugar was affordable and so I always add the spice. I am staying on trend with the current top seeds in the new whiskies of the moment as I look for David Beckham (a tennis fan) in the Wimbledon Royal Box and suggest Haig Club (about £45 for 70cl) to match my ice cream. Light and cereal in flavour Haig Club takes cold really well and is recommended over ice and in long drinks. There is also a sweetness to it that matches the strawberry ice cream very well and the peppery notes from the wood of maturation produce a beautiful follow-through to the ice cream. A stroke of genius?
Strawberries are one of the most difficult fruits to match any drinks with as their own flavour is so complex - and differs so widely between cultivars. It is all very like the huge variety in whiskies! Strawberries are an incredible balance of sweet and acidic tastes. I am not surprised that I have included two blends in my section of whiskies to match these dishes as they are always inclined to adapt and support complex flavours more readily than some of the single malts and grains. If you are a single malt fan I would suggest The Hielan 8yo as the one whisky to buy and try with all my strawberry dishes. If you enjoy a blend and seek an elegant drink for the summer then my recommendation is GKS Artist’s Blend from Compass Box. Whichever you choose, I hope you have a new champion on your whisky shelf!