As a Northeasterner, I think that strawberry season starts in June. It is a summer food. But 80s-skimming temperatures also mean summer to me. It's not too surprising, then, that I just enjoyed a mind-blowing slice of strawberry cake at the beginning of March, even if it messed with my mind a bit. I'm not sure whether that means the month came in like a lion or a lamb, but either way, I have Memorial's Tres Market Foods to thank.
The market expanded from a small kitchen and cooler area to include seating (pictured above) and vastly extended offerings early this year. The food is grab-and-go, with lunch centered around brown paper boxes that include several elements: For example, my three beef tenderloin sliders on Parker House rolls were packaged with grapes, potato chips and a tangy cider mustard. A large portion of grapes also came with the summer salad with pulled chicken and bacon crumbles lending protein to a refreshing mix of berries, greens and cucumbers that crunched with the surprising but lovable addition of Chinese fried noodles.
There are also frozen meals, some packed much in the same way as the lunches and labeled "TV dinners." The contents, such as chicken pot pie and meatloaf, are old-fashioned and comforting enough to make perfect sense in a Stouffer's package—if Stouffer's used fresh, quality ingredients and made everything from scratch. All around, the food and the scene of older ladies picking up meals to take home or lunching with their friends reminded me of hanging out with my grandmother back home in Connecticut, where convenience food is king, but it has to be good.
But nothing tops the baked goods. Cookies included in the lunch boxes I tried disappeared quickly, but that strawberry cake was truly something special. A moist chiffon is fine, but I prefer a cake with some density. The layers of this one had that just-right toothsome pull and crunched with strawberry seeds to prove that the contents were the real deal. There were seeds and chunks of the red berries in the soft buttercream, too. It tasted like summer. Or, rather, burgeoning spring in a beautiful new place.