Thursday, May 9, 2013

Strawberry San Francisco

This dessert is near and dear to my heart, for many reasons. For one, it was the only time my mother would allow us to eat our strawberries with sugar; best yet, brown sugar, which I used to stash bags of under my bed circa 1985. It also is a tie to my mother's waitressing days, and she worked in some of the best restaurants (in my opinion) in the area. This dessert is from Ray Radigan's, a supper club in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Don't ask me where the name came from - I have no clue how San Francisco ties into it. 
If you've ever driven into Wisconsin from Illinois on Sheridan Road, you know that there is not much to look at. There isn't much diversity as far as businesses go; mechanics, auto parts stores, fast food chains, hotels, bars, and the occasional restaurant. Once you hit a stretch of pseudo-rural drive, Ray Radigan's is like a beacon in the disguise of a traditional supper club. They haven't changed their ways much since opening in 1933 - great in-house dry-aged steaks, lobster thermidor, and a schnitzel of the day are some of the classics they still serve. The atmosphere may not compare to some of the nouveau supper club throwback places that pop up from time to time, but it is a classic and simple place that if you live near, you simply must check it out. Just like you must try this dessert.
One of the great things about it is that you can really make it to suit your tastes - we always have. Traditionally it consists of perfectly ripe strawberries, sour cream, and a sprinkling of light brown sugar. Thats it. I've used creme fraiche, greek yogurt, and good old sour cream. I usually use greek yogurt lately, since it is always in the fridge. You can add as much brown sugar as you want - completely up to you, but it is easy to go overboard. Start with a little, and go from there. This is also really lovely with some reduced balsamic vinegar drizzled over it in lieu of the brown sugar (or with it, if you're a junky for it like me). Its also a dessert that can be made elegant enough for (last minute) guests, or you can simply pile some sour cream in a bowl, sprinkle a healthy portion of brown sugar on top, and dip whole strawberries in it for a meal, er, snack. 
Strawberry season is upon us in some parts of the country, and will be in full swing here in the MidWest before we know it. This is a wonderfully simple and fun way to enjoy them, and you can try many variations. The classic tangy, thick, creamy dairy paired with the molasses-y subtle crunch of the brown sugar is my all time favorite, and what I recommend when trying it for the first time.


  1. My mother used to whip this up for me all the time growing up when we wanted something sweet but she didn't want us eating junk food. I never knew it had a name. I'm sure she didn't either. You're right, it is delicious. And perfect for this time of year.

  2. Your receipes are great, Renee! I'm gonna try all of them. And Steve will particularly love the strawberries, sour cream and/or yogurt and brown sugar. Can't wait! Aunt Cathy

  3. This looks absolutely gorgeous! I love how simple, but totally delicious it sounds!