22 Apr2015

Hot Tomatoes

by Marketman

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The summer heat has started to get to me. It’s just been WICKED HOT in Manila lately, and if I had to choose, I would definitely pick a cool rainy day rather than a sweltering hot and humid day in the city. But heat has its benefits… and spectacular tomatoes are definitely one of them. In the past month I have ramped up the tomato purchases and have enjoyed them in salads, on bruschetta, sandwiches, etc. I have oven semi-dried several kilos of tomatoes and if I find the right type, I may even bottle or freeze some in the weeks ahead.

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The biggest surprise were these teeny tiny cherry tomatoes, grown entirely in our own backyard, just beside the laundry area. Seeds came from some overripe tomatoes we had in the kitchen a few months ago, and we just planted them hoping something would grow and bear fruit. They look FABULOUS. And we harvested them when they were at their ripest. Or so we thought. They tasted horrific! So sour I could make “champoy” with them if I soaked them in salt for a month! Evil. :( But then again, long-time readers know I don’t have a green thumb, so while these bore fruit, they were shockingly bad. :)

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Thank goodness I don’t earn a living from growing tomatoes, I would be in serious debt. And thank goodness Toscana farms in Tagaytay is at just about the peak of tomato season around now. A farm visit to Toscana in time for the Easter week holiday at the beach meant we loaded up some 10+ kilos (of at least four kinds of tomatoes) into our car.

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We visited the farm at Toscana’s invitation, as they are testing some new heirloom tomatoes, and that’s all I can say about them except that the photos here look, well, rather spectacular, don’t you agree?

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An eggplant and red wine and cherry tomato salad.

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Heirloom tomatoes and boconcini (little mozzarella balls) and basil.

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Finally, a mixed tomato and basil salad. And it isn’t just the snazzy tomatoes that are worth hunting down these days. Weekend markets are filled with several varieties of tomatoes in their ripest splendor, so indulge, folks!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Footloose says:

    It was only a few years ago, late in life I have to admit, that I spotted Caprese under Salads on the menu of a hotel restaurant in Buenos Aires. I of course asked the waiter and was politely told the answer. Turned out I have been enjoying it all these years in total ignorance of its Italian name. Re penultimate photo.

    Apr 22, 2015 | 9:30 pm

     
  2. Nadia says:

    I have the same experience with our cherry tomatoes. A friend gave them as a gift a long time ago and told us to just throw the overripe tomatoes directly on the ground. Before we knew it, we had tomato plants all over the place and fruits so plenty we didn’t know what to do with them. However, as you said, their looks are deceiving…ours was not only SOUR but also BITTER even at their ripest!!! I have tried to dry them, pickle them, make them into sauce but still they left that bitter aftertaste. So disappointing considering that they grow like weeds.

    Any thoughts on why this is so? Is it the variety? Or the soil? :(

    Apr 22, 2015 | 9:55 pm

     
  3. Marketman says:

    Footloose, yes, the classic caprese, best with a nice hunk of buffalo mozzarella, or fresh cow’s milk mozzarella in a pinch. Also amazing with burrata. And while I have never had it, apparently originally made with cacio cheese on the island of Capri… Nadia, I thought it might be some of the detergent from the wash getting to the soil with the tomatoes… :)

    Apr 22, 2015 | 10:11 pm

     
  4. EbbaBlue says:

    Those pictures are spectacular. I don’t eat fresh tomatoes unless it’s picked straight fom the garden and I like the cherry/grape varieties.
    I just watched thru Pinoy Channel a “chef” teaching Robin Padilla’s wife , how to make “Pandechetta”. Yeap, she said it’s the Pinoy take on bruschetta. And according to her, what makes it Pinoy , are the additions of different “vegetables” mainly tomatoes, and wansuy. Also she used quezo Puti. And of course pandesal.
    Tomato … vegetable? Common…A professional chef on a national t.v.?

    Apr 23, 2015 | 5:04 am

     
  5. Kasseopeia says:

    Nacho has finally started growing heirlooms! Rejoice!

    …and those chocolitos. They haunt my dreams more than long-lost love.

    Apr 23, 2015 | 8:55 am

     
  6. jjjjjjjj says:

    i wonder why tomatoes in the philippines always taste sour unlike those in europe which taste sweet

    Apr 23, 2015 | 9:20 am

     
  7. Marketman says:

    jjjjj, terroir and temperature I think goes a long way to explain things. Though I have to say, many of the tomatoes above were not sour, and were terrific by local standards, but not quite on par with the fabulous ones in more temperate regions.

    Apr 23, 2015 | 9:23 am

     
  8. erehwon says:

    From Oxford Dictionaries online:
    “As far as cooking is concerned, some things which are strictly fruits, such as tomatoes or bean pods, may be called ‘vegetables’ because they are used in savoury rather than sweet cooking. The term ‘vegetable’ is more generally used of other edible parts of plants, such as cabbage leaves, celery stalks, and potato tubers, which are not strictly the fruit of the plant from which they come. Occasionally the term ‘fruit’ may be used to refer to a part of a plant which is not a fruit, but which is used in sweet cooking: rhubarb, for example.
    So, the answer to the question is that a tomato is technically the fruit of the tomato plant, but it’s used as a vegetable in cooking.”
    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/words/is-a-tomato-a-fruit-or-a-vegetable

    Apr 23, 2015 | 11:51 pm

     
  9. Footloose says:

    Oh, let’s forgive an easy to make mistake like that, particularly coming from a chef. Now a horticulturist making the same misclassification may be a little harder to overlook. It seems easier to cavil only with tomatoes because of their common colour when ripe; with eggplant, okra, squashes and gourds, not quite so. This is probably why we modify vegetables with green leafy when we refer to non-fruit ones.

    Apr 24, 2015 | 1:16 am

     
  10. jjjjjjjj says:

    Marketman, do you have a recipe for pasta sauce using our native tomatoes? Given the quality of the usual tomatoes that we find in the Philippines, it is very difficult to make a decent pasta sauce out of fresh tomatoes. The sauce turns out very acidic. No choice but to settle for canned tomatoes. Is there a trick to tone down or counter the acid?

    Apr 24, 2015 | 2:47 pm

     
  11. Marketman says:

    jjjjjjj, you might try very ripe local tomatoes, and add salt and a touch of sugar to counter the acidity. I have made fresh tomato sauces from locally grown tomatoes and they were quite edible… but that’s just chopped up nice tomatoes just warmed in olive oil, hot pasta, chunks of buffalo mozzarella and torn up basil. But most of the time, I used canned Italian tomatoes, they are superior to most local options I am afraid to say… See THIS POST.

    Apr 24, 2015 | 3:09 pm

     
  12. Betchay says:

    Nacho, those are terrific heirlooms!
    And Kass, same dreams here! :)

    Apr 24, 2015 | 11:13 pm

     
  13. MP says:

    Those heirloom tomatoes look spectacular! The cherry ones, too! I love sour tomatoes so I would probably have eaten them like I would sour mangoes, with lots of spicy bagoong!

    Apr 25, 2015 | 12:27 am

     
  14. jjjjjjjj says:

    Good stuff. Thanks for the link MM!

    Apr 26, 2015 | 5:36 pm

     
  15. bennym says:

    jjjjjjjj, to counter acidity, in addition to adding salt and a bit of sugar, I stir in a very tiny pinch of baking soda (alkaline) to my tomato sauce. It will foam up. Add more as needed, but a little goes a long way, so keep tasting your sauce along the way.

    Apr 30, 2015 | 9:12 pm

     
 

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