Simon King, chef/proprietor at restaurant 1861 in Cross Ash near Abergavenny, is a big fan of the sweet and succulent strawberry.

I love strawberries – to me they epitomise summer with their heady fragrance, amplified by the warmth of the sun.

We are lucky that over the last couple of summers, we have had some decent weather. Nothing kills a strawberry quicker than damp weather and the attendant slugs.

If you decide to pick your own, go on a fine day, as rains leaches the flavour out of them.

Strawberries, as we all know, are gorgeous with cream, but they are very versatile and have a great flavour when lightly poached.

Just cook them very gently in a little caster sugar, the juice will slowly seep out and the strawberries will cook gently in the juice. My family’s current favourite is poached strawberries teamed with rice pudding, which, when made with cream, is far from being a utilitarian dish.

A combo of raspberries and strawberries is also a palate teaser, as the varying degrees of sweetness, and the different textures, make for a lively marriage.

As a keen forager, wild strawberries are a true prize for me. Although they are tiny, their flavour is intense, and that’s made all the more delightful as you eat as you gather.

Like blackberries, freshly picked and crammed in the mouth, is the way to go with wild strawberries!

Creamed rice pudding, strawberry compote

Rice pudding


40g pudding rice

2oz caster sugar

1 vanilla pod

1 pint of milk

Half pint of cream

Knob of butter

Pinch of salt


Place all the ingredients except the rice into a pan, bring to the boil then add the rice. Simmer until the rice is tender and the milk is reduced to a thick creamy consistency, stirring regularly.

Strawberry compote

1lb strawberries

Sugar to taste


Remove the strawberry tops and slice the strawberries in two. Place in saucepan over a low heat, and pop the saucepan lid on, after a couple of minutes the strawberries will start to warm through and release some juice, at this point remove the lid, add any sugar you require and increase the heat to cook strawberries quickly. Serve with the rice pudding and garnish with brown sugar. To give a little crunch and real depth of flavour, we use a Costa Rican brown sugar, which has an amazing taste.