The Sweet (And Not So Sweet) Life of Our Strawberry Weekend

We were in the Emergency Room until 6AM with Lizzie last night.

She had some formula (for the 3rd time in her little life: she’s primarily breastfed), because Mommy needed some alone time – but by 8:30PM she couldn’t stop throwing it up, was listless, and generally scaring the *%$&*^* out of us. Of course, we waited 7 hours in the ER, where she promptly made a miraculous recovery and was nursing, smiling, babbling and generally charming the pants off of everyone by the time she was seen by the doctor. However, tests showed a urinary tract infection that no one even suspected that she had! A reason for everything, right? On that note, I will try to remain coherent enough to share our little sojourn into “Strawberry Fields” on Saturday.

Our first stop was a grand return to The Sweet Life Bakery in Vineland; and long overdue, as far as I’m concerned. This is my favorite bakery evah, and knowing that they were throwing their own little strawberry festival was too good to pass up. Stephen and Jill (the husband and wife team that own the place and do God’s work with pastries), along with Tracy and Darrol, were there to greet us and show off the wonderland of treats they had prepared. On the table outside were pints and pints of strawberries just picked from a local farm, and Tracy was serving up strawberry shortcake, cupcakes, and cookies.

The shortcake was the rare, real thing (no whipped cream out of a spray can or stale, packaged sponge cakes here): freshly-baked shortbread cake (more bread-like than cake-like) which enhanced the insanely sweet and juicy sliced strawberries topped with fresh, vanilla-laced whipped cream. So simple, so good.

We then went inside and bought a box stuffed full of a sampling of their goodies: Julian immediately polished off a rich devil’s food cupcake with real butter cream icing, while John and I sampled the strawberry cupcakes (yellow cake stuffed with homemade strawberry jam and butter cream made with pureed strawberries) and tried really hard not to eat everything else in the box all at once (a strawberry sweet roll stuffed with cream cheese and jam, crisp with sugar on top; a pecan sticky bun; a strawberry-rhubarb tart; dark chocolate brownies that are so rich they are almost evil; and a sampling of their cookies: brown sugar, oatmeal raisin, and the “Godfather” chocolate chip cookie).

Darrol told us the story of how the Godfather cookie got its name. Apparently, Stephen and Jill were at an event where James Brown was performing and someone backstage asked if he wanted a cookie. ” ‘Yeah, sure,’ he replied, probably expecting a supermarket cookie or something. Then he took a bite, looked up and said, ‘That’s the best damn cookie I ever had.’ Stephen thought that was just too funny, and had to go back and rename their chocolate chip cookie. We chatted a while with Darrol and found out he is an avid home brewer and is awaiting the maturing a stout finished off with fresh strawberries in the secondary fermentation Wow. We are anxious to hear his “Tweet”on how it came out!

Later, while waiting for Julian to finish in the bathroom, I read an posted article in which Stephen and Jill explain how they got their start by agreeing to be a kosher bakery! Although they are no longer kosher (not enough response from the local Jewish community), their mission, to use only real, whole ingredients (local, whenever possible) results in just plain amazing sweets. Sigh, I wish we didn’t live so far away. Then again, after Julian proudly announced his bathroom activities to the entire bakery, I was glad we could drive far, far away…

…To Dutch Neck Village in the Bridgeton for their Strawberry Festival. Our impression? It was a nice place to stroll around (crafts shops in a pastoral setting) but was truly just a crafts fair. In fact, the only strawberries to be had were at two stands: one selling the local, farm-fresh berries themselves, and another selling “shortcake” (but, sadly, the kind with the aforementioned spray can). Still, we were more than happy to bring home a few quarts of the local berries (all eaten, as of today) and Julian was more than thrilled with a full half-hour on a bouncy ride, the petting goats, the NOT-FOR-PETTING giant bull, and a Stewart’s Root Beer (ahh, to be six again…). I think I’d skip this festival again next year, though, and pick our berries closer to home.

OK. Fine. Whatever. I hope this all makes sense when I read it again tomorrow morning. We’re going to bed now, to dream of strawberries.



One thought on “The Sweet (And Not So Sweet) Life of Our Strawberry Weekend

  1. Oh no, I thought you were going to say the baby was allergic to strawberries that mom ate! So glad all is okay, and we were right there with you, OMGosh, and we missed you somehow… We went to this great winery, Amalthea Cellars? Have you been there it was the best in Jersey we both decided!Have a good June, I will be in Texas for three weeks!

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