Strawberries and cream always reminds me of Wimbledon–though I’ve never been there, haha. But every year I watch the tennis tournament dutifully, the oldest and most prestigious of the Grand Slam events, and every year the sportscasters on Channel 4 proclaim the weekend coverage to be “Breakfast at Wimbledon,” where the customary dish of strawberries and cream is served. I don’t think I ever partook in this breakfast tradition from my couch, but I always thought it was the nicest, most elegant summer breakfast one could ever eat, and that’s why it was so coveted at Wimbledon. The interesting thing about Strawberries and Cream is that it really was invented by the English, but not for tennis tournaments. Old rumors have it that Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, famous for being ebroiled in all of King Henry VIII’s affairs, had the dish created in his kitchens at Hampton Court. The light dish would have been perfect during the early summer when strawberries are in season, and it’s still beloved now, the sweet, and slightly tart, strawberries tempered by the cool, rich cream.
Wimbledon isn’t around for another month or so, and the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows for another two months after that, so don’t get your hopes up in celebrating National Strawberries and Cream Day while watching some fantastic professional tennis matches. But you can get the feel of the long, unending lines at Flushing Meadows by heading to Tom’s Diner for brunch this morning! Not to be confused with the internationally popular Tom’s Restaurant on the Upper West Side (of Seinfeld fame), Tom’s in Brooklyn, a few blocks away from the Brooklyn Museum, has become a neighborhood sensation for affordable and delicious breakfast and brunch items. The buzz around this place has caused trendsetters and foodies from all the boroughs to flock to it, resulting in long lines that snake down the block, waiting for a table in the tiny eatery to open up. The staff here has noticed the long lines, however, and instead of watching prospective patrons sweat out in the line and laugh at them from the comforts of the restaurant, Tom’s offers free, tasty refreshments every fifteen minutes to keep diners happy and hungry for more of what they have to offer. One of the most celebrated treats they offer is the simple strawberries and cream, the same as centuries ago, served alongside fresh orange wedges and cookies. It’s the perfect little bite to whet one’s appetite and keep you in line, hoping to taste some of Tom’s famed sweet potato pancakes, fruit-flavored butters, or tasty traditional egg creams while you’re at it. You’ll hardly even remember how long you’ve been waiting in line!
782 Washington Ave (between Sterling Pl & Lincoln Pl), Prospect Heights
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“I love Tom’s. It’s definitely worth the wait in line. And while you’re waiting, they treat you real nice 🙂 Cookies, coffee, sausage, oranges, strawberries & cream, french fries, etc… If you’ve never been you probably think I’m kidding. I actually get a little disappointed if there isn’t a line. One time Gus even brought us out umbrellas when it was raining!”–Ashley T.
“He warned us there would be a wait, and sure enough, there was. We joined the line of people in the windy, chilly weather. But, within a few minutes…some guy was walking down the line with a tray of coffee, cream, and sugar! I’ve never seen anything like it. A few minutes later, little triangles of french toast appear. A few minutes after that…strawberries and cream. We were inside and seated before the next round made its way down the line. As someone else said, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so…welcome before. That was customer service to the extreme.”–Angela O.
For that same strawberries and cream taste without the actual…well, strawberries and cream, head to the home borough of the U.S. Open, straight to Forest Hills’ Brownies & Cream, a bakery and macaron shop. With the macaron craze in Manhattan finally dying down, we can get to the really great macaron bakeries without having to trudge through all of the pretenders. Brownies & Cream may not be on Madison Avenue, but they serve high-quality macarons–some even better than those popular Manhattan shops–for outer borough prices. And their flavors are unique, a standout quality that makes Brownies & Cream rise to the top among all the other macarons in the city. They have such interesting flavors as red velvet, espresso, and–yep!–strawberry and cream. It’s a delightful little bite of light, fluffy macaron that, while it may not actually be strawberries and cream proper like what they’ll be serving at Wimbledon, evokes both the flavors and the light texture of the dish perfectly. You can also pick up some yummy gelato at the shop, too, in case you’d like some actual cream with your strawberry and cream. 😉
Brownies & Cream
72-40 Austin St, Forest Hills
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“The red velvet and strawberry & cream macaroons were delicious.”–Michelle R.
“I sampled the vanilla buttercream, strawberries and cream, nutella, and espresso macarons which were all delicious with a nice crunch on the outside and soft chewy goodness once you bite into it. They pretty much tasted like what I had in Paris.”–Emma K.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!