By Juliana Goodwin | Photography by Jamison Mosley
June means berry season is in full swing. Strawberries are on their way out, but blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are on their way in. It’s time to enjoy the summer fruit, and we have many suggestions. From spectacular desserts to cocktails to enjoying self-picked fruits from a local farm, there are ample chances to savor the berrylicious taste of summer.
Strawberry Basil Margarita at Table Mesa Bistro
When temperatures rise, it’s time to sip on a strawberry basil margarita from Table Mesa Bistro in Bentonville. Located on the square, this restaurant has an innovative modern Latin menu and is a favorite spot to dine and drink. Served on the rocks, the margarita features silver tequila, fresh muddled strawberries and fragrant basil, topped with St. Germain elderflower liqueur. It won’t take long before you’re asking for seconds.
Blackberry Cobbler from the Cliff House Inn
The Cliff House Inn boasts more than stunning views of the “Arkansas Grand Canyon,” it’s also a place where you can score an incredible blackberry cobbler. This homemade deep-dish cobbler has a cake style crust and is bubbling with sweet blackberry goodness. Definitely order it a la mode.
Blackberry Bramble beer from Lost Forty Brewing
Brewed with real blackberries, this unfiltered wheat beer has notes of tangerine and clementine and finishes with a crisp, tart berry zing. The good news is you don’t have to make the trek to Little Rock to taste it. Amber Brewer, brand manager and marketing director, says Blackberry Bramble is available in cans and on draft statewide.
Blueberry Tart at One Eleven
Housed in the historic and elegant Capital Hotel, One Eleven is a gem. Chef Joel Antunes and his culinary team create masterpieces and draw on flavors from around the world. A highlight on the extensive dessert menu is the blueberry tart. Plump sweet blueberries are nestled in a crisp buttery crust and served with honey thyme ice cream, made in-house.
Berry Pancakes from The Buttered Biscuit
Berries and pancakes are a match made in heaven at the Buttered Biscuit. Blueberry lovers should order the Lila lemon-cakes which feature fluffy blueberry pancakes, layered with tart lemon curd, topped with mint, lemon zest, fresh blueberries and sweetened whipped cream. Or try the signature strawberry cheesecake pancakes which feature strawberry pancakes filled with strawberry cream cheese and topped with sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries.
Strawberry Shortcake at the Bulldog Restaurant
Strawberry shortcake is legendary at this venue, which has been open since 1978. Sisters Jennifer Pierce and Julie Roberts bought the restaurant in 2017 but worked for the previous owner for more than two decades. The strawberry shortcake is a best seller.
“We sell a ton of it,” Pierce says.
Forget a spongy cake, this shortcake starts with a homemade butter cookie crust that is cut into strips, topped with butter and sugar, vanilla ice cream and sliced strawberries. You have the option of adding whipped cream and pecans. But hurry if you want some because this dessert is only available through Labor Day.
Blackberry & Blueberry Wine from River Bottom Winery
The only thing sweeter than eating a fresh berry is sipping on blueberry or blackberry wine, which are both available at this charming family-owned winery. Located in the Arkansas River bottoms at BoBrook Farms, the winery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday; noon to 5 p.m., Sunday. The wines are made with estate grown fruit, and you can also buy jams and honey.
Blueberry & Blackberry Picking at Cox Berry Farm
Cox Berry Farm buzzes with activity in June as people flock to the farm to pick blackberries which are usually ready in mid-June. Credit cards are not accepted, only cash or check. The prices had not been set at press time and neither had opening hours. Call ahead (479) 754-3707 or visit Facebook for updates.
Raspberry, Blueberry & Blackberry Picking at Mountain Home Berry Farm
You can pick blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and a few other crops at Mountain Home Berry Farm. Sidney Williams and his wife, Holly, own the operation which is open Monday-Saturday; hours vary throughout the week. They have a store on the property and sell other produce, jams, honey and salsa. Prepicked berries are also available. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, there are extended hours into the evening for people who can’t make it out in the morning, he says.
Blueberry Picking at Massey Blueberry Farm
This family-owned berry farm has been around for 15 years. Berries should be ripe by the last week of June.
“We are always picking by the Fourth of July. The season lasts six weeks and goes into early August. The best time to pick is very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon,” says owner Susan Massey.
Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry and Raspberry Picking at Holly Springs Homestead
This farm’s strawberry crop got a late start, so there should be strawberries into the first week of June, says Deedee Alston, who owns the century farm with her husband Luke. If strawberries are sold out, don’t fret, because you can pick blackberries, blueberries and raspberries throughout the month. The family has a commercial kitchen on the property and serves breakfast and lunch. There’s also a farm market and retail store. They create specialty drinks with their berries, and the strawberry cream soda is the most popular, Deedee says.
Cooking with berries
Blackberry Peach Crumble
1 pound sliced frozen peaches (or fresh if available)
1 pound fresh blackberries
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped
2 tablespoons oats
vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)
• Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
• In a bowl, toss together peaches, blackberries, ½ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and tapioca. Transfer to a 9-inch rectangular or circular pan.
• For the crumble, mix flour and cinnamon together until well combined. Then add the brown sugar, butter, oats and mix together until mixture forms large crumbs.
• Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the peaches and blackberries. Bake 35-40 minutes.
• Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
• Variation: You can also use coconut oil instead of butter which provides a wonderful flavor for this crumble and transforms it into a dairy-free and vegan recipe.
Lemon Blueberry Tart
1 (9-inch) tart pan or shallow pie pan
1 store bought pie crust or favorite pie crust recipe
1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 (10-ounce) jar lemon curd
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 pint fresh blueberries
• Bake the crust according to package directions, but be sure the crust overlaps on the edges so it doesn’t slip down as it bakes. You can also use a shallow pie pan if you don’t have a tart pan.
• Cool crust completely on the counter before filling.
• For the filling, stir together mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar, then stir in lemon curd and zest. Spread into the crust. Top with blueberries. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until time to serve.