The Best Thing I Ate This Week: Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry shortcake from Terrapin

Anne Leonard

Giddy at the humid evening weather, the husband and I figured it was the perfect night to gallivant down to the oceanfront for a late night snack at Virginia Beach’s Terrapin. This was my first time here, but my friends had already prepped my taste buds for a most delectable evening. Boy, were they right. After our waiterwho had a striking resemblance to stand-up comedian Nick Swardsonrecommended the Gloria Ferrer Etesian Pinot Noir we sat back, ready to unwind after a long week. Drooling over their Wednesday deal of fried chicken and a glass of pinot noir, we restricted ourselves to stick to a light snack and made a mental pact we’d return for dinner. After ordering a cheese board, I promptly requested the dessert menu. A black sesame ice cream with a lemon poppy seed cake was of interest as well as every chocolate item, but all options dissipated once our waiter described their seasonal dessert: strawberry shortcake.

Now, it’s rare for me to find a dessert I don’t fancy, but my history with strawberry shortcake is a whole other story. It was never my go-to dessert as a child. My family purchased the dry, cake-y yellow pods carved out for the red “strawberry” goo to be squeezed out of its plastic bag. Let’s just say my family often cut corners in the dessert department, and this was not a good thing.

Once we scarfed down our cheese board, the strawberry shortcake was delivered in an 8-ounce jar, making me swoon even more as my eyes goggled at its layered loveliness. A mint leaf was delicately placed at the top, but it fluttered down a layer once my spoon took the first plunge. The shortcake was spongy and moist, nothing like the crumbly, processed pods I was used to. Between the layers of cake was a balsamic whipped cream with a faint hint of basil. Chopped mint leaves floated throughout the jar. Hailing from a neighboring farm in Pungo were luscious strawberries macerated with lemon zest and sugar. As if this dessert could get any better, two mini scoops of homemade vanilla ice cream topped it all off.

Despite my less than exciting upbringing in strawberry shortcake, I quickly became mesmerized with Terrapin’s twist on this old-fashioned dessert. Needless to say, I’ll be returning sooner than later with room for a dessert...or two.

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