TOMATOES: Get em while you can
by: Jessica De Lasaux, “The Kitchen Gardener”
Drum roll please….the heirloom tomatoes are ripe on the vine at Auberge du Soleil…well, I admit, only one cherry tomato was fully ripe thus far. I ate it, and it was delicious. I have been waiting since last November for this moment. Nothing compares to the pop of a sweet cherry tomato warmed by the morning sun.
I live off tomatoes the few months that they are in season. Caprese salad with Burrata cheese, rustic panzanella, spicy salsa, oven-dried tomatoes, Greek feta salad…the list goes on and on….
Tomato in French, pomme d’amour means “love apple,” because the heart-shaped fruit was regarded as an aphrodisiac. The Italian name for the tomato is pomodoro, which translates to “apple of love” or “golden apple,” because the first tomatoes to reach Europe were yellow varieties.
Heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated plants, grown directly from the seed of a previous fruit, from a variety that has been around for fifty years or more. I purchased our organic tomato starts from Forni Brown Garden of Calistoga in April. This year I selected six different varieties of tomatoes for the Auberge du Soleil Herb Garden. There are three of my old favorites- Great White, Sun Sugar and Black Cherry and three that I have never grown before- Odoriko, Moonglow and Japanese Black.
With the hot days and warm evenings we have had the last week I will not have to wait much longer. The plants are loaded and the tomatoes will soon begin to ripen faster than I can consume them. I will eventually have to share these festive jewels of summer.