Strawberry “vacherin” of fresh strawberries, lime meringues, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, and strawberry-blood orange liqueur sauce.

We Californians are happily up to our necks in strawberries for a good part of the year, and it’s easy to take our most reliably luscious berry for granted. Delightfully, our new pastry chef Andrew Chaney relishes them. Between his time at the CIA in Napa and his days at Gary Danko and Boulevard, Andrew spent time in New York, where the strawberry season goes from June through August — “and that can be cut short due to bad weather,” he says. For him they remain precious.

We’ve been greatly appreciating Andrew for bringing a renewed interest and energy to our pastry program, which he’s doing with talent, a fantastic culinary background and, in some instances, memories that bring meaning to his work — like driving through Salinas with the top down, deep in strawberry season, the smell of them sweetening the highway.

Strawberries can seem so commonplace, but they’re perfectly capable of surprising us with a new, glorious aspect of themselves. Right now, they’re just getting good again, and Andrew’s enjoyment of them shines through his deconstructed strawberry vacherin — strawberries, touched with strawberry-blood orange coulis, are sandwiched between a fragile mound of whipped cream and vanilla bean ice cream. But it’s the lime-flecked meringue kisses that really get to us — their citrus-y perfume lingers on the palate like lipstick on the collar.

Our strawberry vacherin will be on the menu at least through the weekend. Come and try it!

P.S. Did you know you can order our upstairs restaurant desserts from our downstairs rosticceria? Stop by for a quick indulgence, or stay for a whole and wholly delicious meal.