Photo by Brett

The Olallieberry: A Hybrid I Can Get Behind

God, I really need to spend more time on Facebook. Three hours a day just isn't enough time to absorb all those self-promotional posts from "friends," pressing Candy Crush Saga updates and pseudo-artistic Instagram photos.

Actually, I can say with all sincerity that I learned something new and interesting yesterday on Facebook, thanks to a good friend's (notice lack of scare quotes) casual wall post. She noted a recently developed appreciation for "olallieberry pie," which, of course, then prompted me to wonder, What's pie?

Okay, okay, I'll turn down the sarcasm meter because I really do want to impress upon you how genuinely excited I was (as an unabashed food nerd) to learn about a new berry. Well, new to me, at least.

FYI, the olallieberry has a more complicated family tree than the Kennedys; it's a triple-cross hybrid (a cross of two berries that are themselves cross hybrids). I don't know what this means exactly in terms of fruit flavor, but given that their botanical progenitors include the blackberry and raspberry, I'm betting they taste pretty damn good. I also am pretty sure I should not be wearing white linen the first time I try them.

I may be an olallieberry virgin, but those groovy California kids have been enjoying olallieberries and their related baked goods for many years now since the berries have historically thrived along the West Coast. And though I've spent a good amount of time in the sunshine state, I've still managed to miss the olallieberry, perhaps because its season is very short. The berries are around for roughly four weeks, beginning in June and peaking in early July. Apparently, picking olallieberries (similar to apple-picking in the fall on the East Coast) has become quite a popular group activity in Cali such that thousands of scavengers descend upon farms such as Avila Valley Barn.

Some cursory research does not suggest any Houston markets are vending olallieberries (unsurprising since they're a delicate fruit to ship). It seems, then, I have only a few days left, max, to get myself to California and harvest some fresh. Better cash in on those airline miles as I definitely need to try some olallieberry shortcake.

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