In Ontario, due to the heavy spring rain, strawberry season is late this year. This means there is still time to plan a strawberry social. Strawberries grow in other parts of Canada including Quebec and New Brunswick, the U.S. (especially Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, Florida), Japan and Mexico. They are also available in Malaysia's Cameron Highlands where they are grown in greenhouses.
Strawberry socials are fun and strawberries can be used for casual and formal events. They will appeal to members of your party who require a vegetarian or vegan diet. Other seasonal fruit can be substituted for guests who have strawberry allergies. This year, why not try a new twist on an old favorite?
For a strawberry social with a difference, organize your group into teams and head to a farmer's market to purchase strawberries or a local farm for a strawberry picking challenge. To boost the fun factor, have a short scavenger hunt or urban safari to lead the teams to the mystery location of the farmer's market or farm.
Kick things off with a short presentation about the various varieties of strawberries and how to select the ones that will be the most tasty. Select the winning team by awarding points for the first team to fill their baskets and also for the quality of strawberries selected.
Even if you don't pick your own strawberries, you can still challenge teams to a strawberry bake-off. Dessert automatically comes to mind but it's not the only option:
- Strawberry Salads: To give salads a lift, add strawberries to greens, lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. Another option would be to create a strawberry dressing or vinaigrette to make salads pop with a burst of flavor.
- Strawberry Appetizers & Hors D'oeuvres: Yes strawberries can be used for appetizers and hors d'oeuvres. Start with an elegant cracker, add some cream cheese, goat cheese or brie, and top with bits of strawberry. Create a glaze or sauce for pigs in a blanket or sausage rolls. Prepare strawberry gazpacho or a strawberry salsa as a dip to serve with mini-pitas, nachos or tostadas.
- Strawberry Glazes for Meat: Strawberries can also be used to create glazes or sauces for chicken, beef lamb, or salmon.
- Meat Dishes with Strawberries: Strawberries can be used in recipes for meat, poultry, seafood and fish.
Of course strawberries create fabulous desserts.
- Strawberry Crepes: With a vintage or electric crepe maker challenge teams to make the best strawberry crepes. Fold strawberries and ice cream inside the crepes and top them with whipped cream.
- Strawberry Ice Cream Challenge: For some good old-fashioned fun, make strawberry ice cream. Use one of the Retro Appliances we discussed last week.
- Strawberry Sundaes and Sodas: Create cool and tasty sundaes and sodas with the freshly prepared ice cream.
- Strawberry Parfait: Layer strawberries, ice cream, gelatin and whipped cream to prepare delectable parfaits.
- Strawberry Shortcakes: Bake your own shortcakes or, for an interactive meeting break, teams can compete the most attractive
strawberry shortcakes with cake that has already been baked or purchased.
For a more formal event, select a heritage, greenhouse or garden venue and host a strawberry tea. Serve finger sandwiches, a strawberry salad and scones. Add delicious touches with fresh strawberries topped with whipped cream, strawberry shortcakes, tarts, or pastries.
For entertainment, feature a harpist, pianist, flutist, or classical trio. End with a summer fashion show and strawberry cake auction.
For more ideas for summer corporate events or meeting breaks, also consult Ideas to Customize Summertime Meeting Breaks , Corporate Event Planning: Afternoon Tea for Luxury Team Events, and Making Working Lunches Healthy, Interactive and Fun.