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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato!

FINALLY ! the most amazing part of the summer has arrived, I like to think of it as “the Sweet Spot of Summer”. For those of you foodies and gardeners out their I am sure you know what I am talking about, the 6-8 weeks of the summer when Heirloom Tomatoes show up on shelves and markets across the Midwest! I did not plant any Tomatoes this year, I have yet been able to grow a decent Tomato and gave up years ago, so I rely heavily on my local Farmers Market to provide for me the tastiest of treats!

Even my work, the dreaded Tuscan Slave Market, is celebrating the season with our annual Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad! Our chef has a great relationship with Kurlbaum farms, a local Organic, Heirloom Tomato Farm. Last year, the chef and I really bonded over these sweet treats, he apparently is almost as obsessed with them as I am. I will now be spending the new few weeks, concocting, vinaigrettes, and reductions to drizzle over these most heavenly of fruits and looking for new and better ways to serve them up as accompaniments to every meal I create.

A little background on this odd little fruit, yes it is botanically a fruit (however for cooking purposes only it is often classified as a veggie), is likely in order for us to fully appreciate them for what they are. Tomatoes originated in South America and were spread throughout the natives of these lands to as far away as Florida and Arizona, after Cortes arrived the tomato was quickly spread and propagated by Spanish colonizers and is now grown across the world. Tomatoes come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and flavors, and the most sought after these days are the precious Heirloom Varietals. The definition of an heirloom tomato is vague, but unlike commercial hybrids, all are self-pollinators who have bred true for 40 years or more.

I recently listened to a radio program that described the cultivation methods of the many farms in places like Florida that bring us those tasteless red things for most of the year, and let me tell you you are deffinately better off finding a local farmer and eating what he is growing, they taste amazing and have many times the nutrients of the standard tomato. * The More You Know *

As for me I will be in a Tomato Coma by the end of next month, come join me!