29 September, 2010

Golden, and (still) there for the picking.

I can't let go. These days, I'm always looking for them; tomatoes, I mean. I'm pinching back the tomato blossoms in the garden, hoping the tomatoes that have already formed will actually have time to ripen in this new season of reduced sunlight and deepening chill. Bite a garden tomato and you bite into summer. And I can't let go of summer. Not willingly, anyway. The chopped gorgeousness above consists of Délice d'Or, but for yellow you can find your fill with creamy-gold Ivory Egg, the orange-sized Valencias, a handful of Remy Jaune, tiny and sweet as candy (and a more yellowy version of the cherry tomatoes I picked in the top image), pointy pepper-seeming Roman Candle, the faithful Marmande Jaune, the Téton de Vénus jaune (Venus' Breast) and let's not forget the sumptuous, pink-streaked beefsteak, Mortgage Lifter Yellow. It is the prose of the warmer days; don't tempt me to go on--there are well over 12,000 known varieties of tomatoes in nearly all the colors. These are the yellow ones I know and love, in part for their sunny appearance, in part for their sweet nature. Yellow tomatoes are generally less acid, and more on the fruity side. You will love them fresh, but try chopping them up finely and simmering them ever so briefly as Heidi does, and you have a pure-tasting sauce fit for the gods. Rather than going with fresh as she did, I added oven-roasted garlic instead (there's always an oil-topped jar of that in the fridge), to play up that intense tomato sweetness. The sauce is superb served unadulterated over quenelles lyonnaise (an airy, eggy, oval dumpling). Any permutation of pasta will do, of course. If you happen to have other vegetables on hand as I did, then throw in something sautéed, such as eggplant, add a sprinkling of torn fresh basil and just-grated Parmesan. Like me, take the photo before adding the last two ingredients, so you can still see those goldenrod bits of tomato. Actually, I can confirm this sauce is gorgeous in spoonfuls direct from the saucepan.If you did something truly wonderful in a long-ago previous life, you might just know a local producer of Ananas (i.e. Pineapple) tomatoes. This variety redefines tomato-ness. It can grow to a kilo (that's one, single tomato). There are very few seeds, and it's a highly aromatic sort, with a dense, magnificently juicy flesh. And oh, that fine, fine yellow-orange sweetness. So here's my recipe for this, perhaps my very favorite variety of tomato.
Allow the tomatoes to ripen fully someplace warm and bright in your kitchen. You'll know they're ready when hazy streaks of red appear at the flowering ends, and all traces of green are gone. Slice, sprinkle a minute amount of fleur de sel, and drizzle with the grassiest, brightest olive oil you can get your hands on. Afterward, if you're feeling nostalgic for that extraordinary last mouthful, read Pablo Neruda for solace: you aren't alone in loving tomatoes.
Ode To Tomatoes
- Pablo Neruda

The street
filled with tomatoes,
light is
its juice
through the streets.
In December,
the tomato
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
into living flesh,
a cool
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
its flag,
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
at the door,
it's time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth, recurrent
and fertile
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.
(Thank you, Jennifer.)


  1. Tammy,
    If I only had a quarter of your green thumb I'd be happy. Those tomatoes, esp the yellow ones, made my day. I can almost taste them.

  2. Hello Aidan,

    You have such a generous spirit! Actually, inhouse, there are only cactus, because, well, I get distracted. Tomatoes are actually relatively easy: I learned in Italy (land of pomodori)--and confirmed in the often arid Cevennes--drip irrigation is a must. Simplifies things.

    If I could give you a plateful of Ananas tomatoes, I would! That's the one variety I get from a nearby organic farmer, so keep an eye out in local markets around you come next tomato season...Next year I'm growing them myself.

  3. I started this summer with half a dozen tomato plants. So hopeful. But in containers, with the hot, hot weather, and my neglect, I ended up with nothing.

    I do love tomatoes so and envy your bounty.

  4. Hi WC,
    Gardening is always an exercise in optimism! At least here, drip irrigation--which can easily be done for pots, isn't nearly as expensive as you'd think. Maybe it's something to look into.

  5. Love Neruda, love the look of those tomatoes! Not such a bumber crop here this year, they didn't manage to get watered while we were on summer holiday! Oh well, there's always next year.... :-)

  6. Hi Duchess,
    Neruda can make you dream. So can tomatoes, but yes, they do need a regular watering or two!


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