Friday, September 9, 2011

Heirloom Tomatoes

Clockwise from top left: Striped German, Arkansas Traveller, Evergreen, Speckled Roman
Our little town here in MA has a couple of Farmers Markets. One of those is right on my way home from the grocery store. I feel almost obligated to check in each day that I pass it. It has a few very young enthusiastic workers who smile almost continuously as they inquire of each customer the destination dish of the produce they are getting. I have to admit to getting  many menu ideas just by standing in line and being a good listener.

Recently, I noticed the heirloom tomato display. As a tomato lover from childhood when I used to eat tomato sandwiches so juicy, it would dribble down my chin, I decided I needed to do some research. I am the only tomato lover in my family so the results are totally subjective and unscientific findings.

I sliced the tomatoes and adorned them with a little kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, extra virgin olive oil and chopped fresh basil. Of the four varieties chosen simply for eye appeal, the Evergreen and Striped German were the tastiest in the sliced tomato tasting.

Hands down - my favorite. It had all the things I look for in a tomato. The skin was thin and tender. The flesh was juicy, almost a little floral but packing a huge tomato flavor and had a smooth finish. I ate it all and wished I had bought more than the one.

Speckled Roman
was the smallest tomato of the group. It reminded me of a plum tomato. It was very juicy but not sweet at all.  The skin was the thickest and toughest of the group and the flesh was almost mushy. I might use this one as a concasse to help thicken a sauce.

Arkansas Traveller

I thought this one was going to be my favorite when I picked it at the farm stand. It looked like the perfect sandwich tomato and I could envision its brilliant redness layering with some crunchy lettuce and crispy bacon between the sheets of beefy bread..yummmmm. But it was a big disappointment. It tasted like nothing..just wetness. It had a thick skin, almost unchewable. The flesh was a nice texture of firm/soft but there was no flavor at all and I didn't need a second bite when that beautiful Evergreen was still on the plate.

Striped German
If a tomato can be fun, this is my party girl tomato. It looks adorable sliced and the flesh was glistening!
It was a big beefsteak tomato that demands attention on the plate. The skin was thin and melted in the mouth. The flesh was firm but also melted in the mouth with almost a buttery feel to it. I ate all of this one too even though I was very full by the time I got to this tomato. I would love to use this one in a Panzanella with a really nice bread to dance with it.

Well there you have it. Heirloom Tomatoes have been getting very popular. Follow the link I created for more information about them. I found the site really useful. I am planning my tomato garden for next year almost halfheartedly. I think I might prefer to support my local stand instead and get some more menu ideas.

If you have a favorite tomato variety, I would love to hear about it! I am always game for more "research".

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