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SLO has huge berries 

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. For  years, wine grapes have held high court here on the Central Coast, but those glory days have come to an end.

According to a 2011 crop report generated by the San Luis Obispo County Agricultural Department, it’s all about the berries: strawberries. Last year, the berry grossed more than $179 million in the county, creating 24 percent of San Luis Obispo’s ag revenue.

While strawberries have been flourishing, the wine grapes of the county have been withering, at least metaphorically.

Last year, the much beloved booze grape only managed to pull in $129 million, a cool 25 percent decrease from the year before.

The county’s prime climate makes it the perfect location for berries to take root. In fact, they can pretty much be grown year-round here, making this the only county in the state with the ability to grow and harvest strawberries year-round. 

In 2011 alone, growers picked more than 119,000 tons of strawberries and planted 3,159 acres of the fruit.

So where are some great places around the county to enjoy the king of the crop? We thought you’d never ask.

First and foremost, there’s the Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival. Each year in May, people from around the state come to get their strawberry fix. With hundreds of vendors serving up dozens of strawberry-derived treats, there’s endless opportunity to satiate your fruity desires.

This year’s Strawberry Festival takes place in the old village on Memorial Day weekend, May 26 and 27. Roughly 150,000 people are projected to attend.

If you’re in the mood to run off any of your culinary endeavors, you should join the Strawberry Stampede, a 5k walk/run that takes place on May 27. It was started in 1987 by a local business and has since become a Kiwanis Club fundraising event. All of the proceeds go toward youth programs in the community.

San Luis Obispo’s Farmers’ Market also houses some delicious strawberry treats, like baskets of pure strawberry goodness and strawberry shortcake.

However, the crème de la crème of strawberry potential lies in the strawberry-Nutella crepe. Nature made the strawberry for Nutella, just as nature made Gary Busey to remind us that sanity is a gift bestowed to a very select few.

The Nutella-strawberry crepe has ended wars. OK, so it hasn’t technically ended any yet, but we’ve yet to hear of anyone bombing an Italian Nutella factory.

There are several places to procure such a peace-keeping, calorie-laden, thin, love-pancake. Check out Le Ciel Crepe Café’s Santa Margarita for $6.50. It has revolutionized the strawberry.

Next time you’re in the market for something fresh and sweet, remember your dear friend the strawberry and buy a flat in celebration of our county’s most bountiful harvest.

Le Ciel Crepe Café is on Broad Street in the Crossroads Center in San Luis Obispo.

Contributor Maeva Considine compiled this week’s column. We want a Bite! Send us your food, wine, and related news at bites@newtimesslo.com.

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