Tomato Time Is Now

Your biological clock may be ticking, but your gastronomical clock is practically stomping on the ground and demanding that you get thee to a farmer’s market to enjoy the last of this summer’s tomatoes.

It’s a truth that often goes unacknowledged that tomatoes are at their best not during the hot, sweaty days of summer but during the crisp, clear, brand new days of fall. I first learned this watching “Molto Mario” but now I’ve confirmed it by buying the brightest red tomatoes I’ve ever seen and serving them with varying accoutrements. The salad you see above, for example, features sliced tomatoes with basil, blue cheese, oil and balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper, natch. Actually, I hate using the word “natch”–that was the first time I ever used it–and I didn’t enjoy it.

Molly’s Slow Roasted Tomatoes (Pomodori al Forno)

A journey of a thousand miles may begin with one step, but a recipe of several steps begins with precisely 2,408 miles. Specifically: the distance from New York to Seattle.

It was on the plane from New York to Seattle that I read last month’s Bon Appetit magazine which featured our friend Molly Orangette’s recipe for slow roasted tomatoes. The recipe was adapted from the one at Cafe Lago, a restaurant Molly writes lovingly about in the accompanying article, and a restaurant that’s back-to-back with an apartment where Craig used to live with his friends Ryan and Kristen.

The story might’ve ended there, with me reading about Cafe Lago’s Pomodori al Forno on the plane, except the story–like those slow-cooked tomatoes–gets richer as it goes along.

The War & Peace of Tomatoes

[The Amateur Gourmet is on vacation and, while he’s gone, he’s asked his friends to cover for him. Our final guest poster is not only a dear friend of Adam’s, but she’s watching his cat while he’s away! Please give a warm welcome to Stella Ragsdale. Stella just got back from spending the summer on a farm in Martha’s Vineyard and the tomato you see in the picture below is a tomato Stella picked herself. (She’s eating a tomato salad that Adam made for her before he left.) Adam will be back tomorrow from his trip–woohoo!–but he thanks Stella and all his guest posters for keeping his blog (and cat) alive while he was gone. Bring us on home, Stella.]

Tomatoes are some of nature’s most luscious fruits. But what goes in to growing them? Blood, sweat, and tears. This is Mighty Tomato reporting in from Martha’s Vineyard. As a Southerner who has been living in New York City for four years now, I found myself longing for the sun on my back and the feel of the dirt under my feet. So I fled the city this summer and came to Morning Glory Farm where I worked for the Athearns.

I am a farm worker. I work in the sun. I work in the hot dirt. If you’ve never been to Martha’s Vineyard, Morning Glory Farm is the premiere farm on the island. Working on a farm is hard work but its also rewarding. And so is the food!

Tomato Art

It’s September and tomatoes are at their juiciest, and according to many food gurus, their best. More importantly, heirloom tomatoes are so prevalent everywhere these days that you can compose a gorgeous salad like the one you see above with very little effort. Just slice the tomatoes in half or quarters, drizzle with olive oil, spot with balsamic vinegar, shred some basil over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and crumble on some feta. That’s it. Make it as pretty as you can. If you make an extra pretty one, link to it in the comments–I’d love to see it.

Elise’s Fritters & An Heirloom Tomato Salad

Do I hold the record for fastest re-blogged recipe? Probably not. Elise put up her recipe for spicy corn fritters on August 12th, I made them “today” (technically yesterday) August 13th, and now it’s 12:22 AM and I’m blogging about it on August 14th (my mom’s birthday: happy birthday mom!) But no matter. The point is, these corn fritters are truly excellent and a cinch to make. Head to your local farmer’s market to load up on corn and then do what I did: buy a basket of strange looking heirloom tomatoes and make a little salad to serve next to the fritters. Just add olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and basil if you have it. That’s it! A perfect summer meal. Thanks Elise, your fritters make me twitter with joy.

Into The Pages of Gourmet Magazine, A Summer Dinner Party Spectacular

I recall a movie from my childhood–“The Peanut Butter Solution”–at the end of which a young boy whose hair has fallen out (I don’t exactly remember why) enters a room filled with magical, sparkly, landscape paintings. The paintings, you soon learn, are enterable: whichever one he picks, he can walk into. And I felt like that kid just a few days ago when, by way of Kristin (Craig’s sister), I was invited to a dinner party given by a group of Craig’s and Kristin’s friends. I felt like I’d walked into the pages of Gourmet Magazine.

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