Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tomato Tasting

The Almighty Tomato!

We don't know what you did this past weekend - we sure hope it was fun - but we're confident that we outdid you all with our Tomato Tasting Party hosted so fabulously by Patty. She certainly outdid herself and raised the bar for future parties, but we like that! We had two new fun faces at the table: Bob, Patty's main squeeze - first boy ever allowed at the table and Teri, a friend of Patty's. They were both fantastic additions to the party and we were are happy they were there!

We didn't hesitate to ask Teri back for future parties because her enthusiasm and passion for great food is just what we're looking for, and Bob....well, as much as we thoroughly enjoyed his sparkling personality and sincerely appreciated all the help he gave Patty in preparing for this affair, we're just not ready to make it official that men are allowed yet. I do believe that day will come and when it does, Bob's on the list!

So, let's get down to business and talk tomatoes, shall we?! We tasted nine different tomatoes and the only one to show up in everyone's top three was the Red Brandywine, pictured at the top. It's known for it's consistently high yield and it's resistance to disease and we all loved it because it was mighty and meaty with a touch of sweet - the ultimate tomato.

Do you notice how it's beauty permeates all the way through to the middle when sliced? Seated beside the Red Brandywine is the Yellow Brandywine, which wins for good-looking insides, but is considerably milder and less acidic. None of us were overly impressed with the yellow beauty after experiencing the robust flavor of the Red.

The Black Seaman is a Russian Heirloom Tomato and it impressed the majority of our tasters. Supposedly it's an outstanding tomato for sandwiches and salads.

Check out how beauuuuutiful he is when sliced wide open! His deep, reddish green color is matched by his full-bodied, complex flavor. It would be a wonderful tomato to plant in your garden next year, but it also grows quite well in mid-sized containers.

And then there was the Green Zebra, which was a little funky-looking! But funky-looking or not, it had a wonderful zip and zing to it. It's flavor was described by Jen and Patty as "clean" and Teri thought if she closed her eyes she might be fooled into thinking she was eating a cucumber. Interesting! Carrie and I agreed with that.....

Before you cut this baby open, you almost have to remind yourself it's really a tomato! But as you can see, once the knife does it's thing, the evidence is revealed. Sharing the plate with the Green Zebra is the Red Zebra, which had a hint more zing, but couldn't come out ahead of the the Green. These Zebras probably shouldn't take center stage when it comes to tomatoes, but it would be a perfect addition to any salad or dish that asked for several types of tomatoes. In other words, if you love toasting bread, buttering it, topping it with a fat slice of garden tomato, and dropping a dash of salt and pepper on it, this Zebra would not be our first choice of tomato - that would be the Red Brandywine.

And then we have the Cherokee Purple Tomato. About half the table awarded this tomato with Top Three honors because of it's deep, rich flavor.

And then there was what we considered the novelty tomato - the Peach Tomato. He was cute, felt like a peach,

and looked like a lemon when sliced, but the flavor was mild and the consensus was that this tomato had us feeling as though we were getting away from the authentic tomato and what makes him so grand.

The Black Prince and Black Krim were two other tomatoes we tasted, but they failed to "Wow us" when stacked up next to the others. The great thing about all the tomatoes mentioned above is that they can all be grown right here in Ohio in your own backyard! Patty found these particular tomatoes at the North Market in downtown Columbus, so check it out.

This party was super fun and we all went home with fabulous parting gifts. Carrie brought some Romas and Pear Tomatoes from her garden for everyone......

And spunky newcomer Teri, showed up with these adorable little jars of salsa.....Yum!

And because of the line of work she's in, she showed up with a box of twenty-some Mangoes for us to take home and enjoy.... more Yum! Stay tuned for future Mango recipes......

And just when we thought our party was over, because we had tasted all the tomatoes....oh wait.....we forgot to mention that we tasted these tomatoes with slices of toasted bread, a killer spread that Bob made with mayo, Dijon mustard, and crumbled turkey bacon, and four mouth-watering cheeses: Manouri, which is a sheep's cheese from Greece, Piave, an Italian cow cheese much like the beloved Parmesan, the classic Buffalo Mozzarella, and a Garlic/Herb cheese. Patty even plucked some fresh herbs from the garden for us to pair with our tomatoes and she served Portuguese Green Wine for us to sip on while we indulged. We're telling you people, it was a fine way to spend the afternoon!

AND THEN, she brought out a beautiful platter of Fried Green Tomatoes atop freshly sliced cherry tomatoes of different colors and flavors with basil leaves sprinkled in and a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette lightly drizzled on top. Can you say sensational? More wine please.....

AND THEN, she brought three different kinds of hot peppers stuffed with three varieties of goat cheese and homemade pesto. I know!! The fun part about eating the peppers was that she and Bob picked these from their garden but had no idea how hot each one was. They knew they weren't fire-alarm hot, but it was a little like playing Russian Roulette when you took each bite. More wine please......and maybe some Jasmine Tea with ice........no milk necessary. They were wonderfully flavored with just enough heat to get your attention.

AND THEN, they picked some random mushrooms and lightly sauteed them and they were phenomenal!

Now this next part is where it gets tricky because WE are dessert people, Jen and I, and when we think dessert, we think chocolate, ice cream, cheesecake, cobblers - you get the picture - but Patty served a dessert that was nothing like that. Her finale involved thick slices of Plum tomatoes and ripe mangoes arranged beautifully on a white plate with a white wine vinaigrette drizzled all over it. Everything she had prepared up until now had been simply stellar, so we saw no reason not to try it.

Yep! It was good. It was very good. So good that the photo and recipe will be coming soon, along with the Fried Green Tomato recipe. So, if you have so many tomatoes that you're storing them in your spare bathtub, no worries....we've got you covered!

Thank you Patty and Bob for an afternoon of fresh foods, fantastic flavors, and fun friends. And thanks to Carrie and Teri for sharing their wonderful produce with us.

What Are We Tasting Next, You Ask?


Stay tuned in September...


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