Olallieberries U-pick, or Me-pick, rather

(If you are reading this post on a RSS reader, you might want to click through to Chez Pim for the slideshow.

This is the tail end of Olallieberry season in Northern California, so when my friends Beccy and Sean asked me to join them to pick olaillieberries at a farm just north of us on the coast highway, I jumped at the chance.

Have you had olallieberries? If not, you really should try. I love them. I mean, how could you not love a berry whose name is pronounced oh-la-la berries. Ok, some people say oh-la-lee berries, but I much prefer saying oh-la-la. Makes me happy just saying the name. It’s a cross between something called Loganberry and youngberry. Don’t look at me, I am just clueless at this as you are. Go check out Wikipedia yourself.

We drove up the gorgeous coast from Santa Cruz, and just twenty
minutes later we arrived at Swanton berry farm, right off the
Highway 1, with the ocean shimmering just over there. The farm happily
provides a fleet of Radio Flyers and wooden boxes with wood and wire
carriers for the berry pickers’ convenience. The basic rule is, you
pick just as many as you’d like – what you eat while picking is fair
game and doesn’t count – and then take the basket to weigh and pay on
the way out. Quite civilized, really.

This was my first time picking berries at one of these U-pick farms
that are everywhere around here. I actually wasn’t as bad at it
as I had feared. I even had fun doing it – though I felt my city girl
cred slipping away with every berry I picked.

What did I think of the entire experience? Let me sum it up for you
this way, u-pick berries, especially the ones you pick from thorny
brambles like these, are like moments of contemplative meditation -
going from one tangle of brambles to another with your eyes (and your mind) finely tuned to the
force
to find the ripest berries – punctuated by loud, startled cries
of intense pain. The brambles didn’t let us pick the berries off them
lying down, they put up a fight. Ouch. Did they ever put up a fight!

Now I have five pounds of olaillieberries I have to figure out what to do with. Stay tuned.

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  • http://eatingasia.typepad.com Robyn

    Oh la la pie, of course. My grandmother used to make at least 2 a week, during the season.

  • http://www.worldonaplate.org jeanne bee

    Isn’t the u-pick so much fun? I did a double hit this past Sunday strawberries and “oh la la”. I just posted my receipe for blackberry noir cocktails…delish!

  • http://www.caseyellis.com casey

    They make wonderful jam, of course. And I made a terrific galette last summer (from a Nigella Blackberry Galette recipe.) But it’s hard to beat the Ollalieberry-Vanilla Gelato combination. We’re fortunate enough to have a large row of bushes along the back of our property. They serve not only as berry-suppliers but as a superb fence against intruders from the creekbed.

  • onhazier

    Sounds like time to make more jam.

  • http://hande.wordpress.com/ Hande

    They are o-la-la with a vanilla yogurt – cream – mascarpone mix.

  • http://www.meshsf.com/blogs/restaurantwhore.html Joy

    We did this a couple of weeks ago at Swanton (and drove down from SF to do it so don’t worry about the city cred). I made muffins and we ate A LOT.

  • http://squirrel-squad.blogspot.com/ Papa Squirrel

    Thanks for providing the Wikipedia link. My initial Southerner/good ol’ boy reaction was “them dadgum California folk is tryin’ to steal blackberries!” About my only regret from our last trip to your area is not trying olallieberries. I hope to rectify that next time we’re there.
    As to using them, what you really need is a cobbler recipe from a cookbook from an old church here in the South. A cast iron dutch oven in the embers of the fire is one of my favorite cobbler memories in case you want to totally destroy that city girl cred.

  • Lynn

    They look like boysenberries.. I wonder if they’re actually the same..

  • http://kitchenmusings.typepad.com veron

    hee…you are right I like the sound of o-la-la berries better.

  • hilar

    Pie and jam. I make a homegrown boysenberry and blueberry pie spiked with a bit of kirsch (a la Chez Panisse desserts) ~ delicious. I think boysenberries are a bit more flavorful than ollalieberries.

  • http://csabcs.blogspot.com miche

    Oh MAN – so that is what’s growing near my apartment?! Sweet!!! I thought they were some kind of mutated blackberries. I am so excited they are ollalieberries. And how true about the brambles putting up a fight. My kids thought it was funny that I was stuck in the bushes….I was actually a little nervous! LOL Merci mille fois for posting this.