Sunday, July 25, 2010

WITH VISIONS OF TOMATO WATER DANCING THROUGH MY HEAD

I had the best of intentions for this Smackdown. Truly I did. I collected all sorts of recipes and bought lots of fresh produce.
I even bought puff pastry for an array of veggie tarts. But you know what? Even though I said in the rules for this Smackdown that you had to do more than slice some tomatoes in a bowl, that's become my go-to summer meal lately, with a few variations, and I can't get enough of it.

This obsession dates back a few years ago when I was at my friend Becky's house. She grows some unbelievable heirloom tomatoes called Thomas Jeffersons, and had a bowl on hand when I stopped by. As much as I love tomatoes, I don't believe I've ever tasted any that were more amazing than those simple slices. When we finished them, with her permission, I lifted the bowl to my mouth and drained every last drop of their juice. In my taste memory, that is the very definition of "tomato water." Even though it is not that difficult to make actual tomato water (as long as you have some cheesecloth or a pillowcase on hand), I've been sticking to a simpler version of good local tomatoes in a bowl, and slurping up every last drop.
Last night's version included yellow tomatoes, Juliet tomatoes (they're the small oblong ones in the photo at the top of this post), some thinly sliced raw zucchini, a few sliced Kalamata olives, a rough chiffonade of fresh basil, salt, pepper, thyme, a drizzle of olive oil, and a splash of jerez (sherry) vinegar. I later added some Greek feta to it.

For an accompaniment, I made a bruschetta of sorts - OK, let's just call it a small open-faced veggie sandwich. Pulling some of my fig bread from last month's Smackdown out of the freezer, I smeared it with goat cheese, then added a variety of tomatoes, plus thyme and slices of marinated garlic.
Then I added some kalamata olives and shaved parm.
Here's what it looked like when it came out of the oven and I topped it with basil.
I'm lucky I don't have to please other palates around here, but this simple supper epitomizes summertime culinary satisfaction for me.
To all the participants for this month's Smackdown, I've checked out your entries and, as I knew I would be, am inspired by your efforts and creativity! You've all given me terrific ideas to use for the rest of my farmers market haul (peanuts and, sadly, zucchini blossoms not among them). There's definitely some tough competition for this month's contest. So I'll sleep on my decision, and I hope to be back tomorrow night to announce the winner. Thanks to everyone who joined in!

Love, eggy

13 comments:

Heff said...

Wow. Just Wow.

And, DAMN !

Great post !

Dani said...

Now THAT'S a good summer dinner!

moi said...

See, there's nothing like the color, scent, texture, and taste of a garden fresh tomato. The lure is nearly inescapable. Ergo, your salad is beautiful and looks totally yummy! Besides, I think you worked enough culinary magic last Smackdown for five events :o) Thanks for hosting this time around and I'll email you forthwith.

LaDivaCucina said...

Eggy, your photos are so colourful! Seems like most went to the tomato for inspiration! Yours look divine! When the tomatoes are in season and so ripe and flavorful, I guess there is really nothing to do but slice 'em up, salt 'em and eat 'em!

I only started eating raw tomatoes like this a few years ago when I was at my dad's house in Michigan and bought some tomatoes from a farm stand near his house. Got back and sliced them up with red onions, seasoned with salt, Italian herbs, olive oil and balsamic and let them sit. Then ate the whole lot over rice with grilled chicken! I'm a life long fan now!

Great job at hosting, Eggy, thanks! Am hoping to be able to participate next time! xo

Buzz Kill said...

Tomatoes right of the vine in their raw form are the best. I like slicing tomatoes with a fresh basil leaf and wedge of mozzarella and eat them chilled. Your dishes look very tempting and I'm jealous of your photograhy skills.

I'm laughing at your heirloom tomatoes. Hey, how do you like your Thomas Jeffersons? I oiled up the Juliets and put them on top of the Thomas Jeffersons. I could do this all day. Bwahahaha

Grumpy Granny said...

I'm hopping on one foot to the other waiting for our tomatoes to get ripe. I've got a volunteer yellow pear right out the back door, some Black Krims and yellow stripey-s. I cannot wait. That looks so freakin' good. I don't like commercial tomato juice at all, but what's left on the plate after the fresh tomatoes are gone? Yeah, I could slurp that!

Karl said...

Good evening Eggy,

What a fine spread! Tomato basil salad is a favorite in my family and you make it look so very good.

I apologize for not getting anything up for this smackdown, but I wanted to give Buzz a chance to win. Just kidding, just kidding.

Sometimes real life gets in the way of fun on the Internet. I haven't seen the other entries yet, although I'm sure they're all good and will make it a challenge for you to pick a winner. Best of luck.

Making Space said...

That is SO beautiful. Wow!!

intuitive eggplant said...

Awww, thanks, everyone, for your kind comments. Glad you enjoyed the photos, even if I didn't make something especially innovative this time around.

I had hoped to get the results post up tonight, but it's been a very long day (just got home a little bit ago), and I'm beat. So stay tuned for the awarding of the lovely Culinary Smackdown badge tomorrow night, and thanks for your patience!

intuitive eggplant said...

Good thing I didn't get too het up about posting results tonight. I am stunned and saddened to learn we have lost a member of the Culinary Smackdown family and a dear and enthusiastic member of the food blogosphere. Read Buffalo Dick's son's post on B.D.'s blog here:

http://buffalodickdy.blogspot.com/2010/07/to-my-fathers-loyal-blog-readers.html

Buffalo Dick deserves special acknowledgment and maybe his own posthumous "Heavenly Culinary Smackdown Winner" badge? Anybody in the crowd got the photoshopping skills or time to put something like that together? Your thoughts and input appreciated. Feel free to email me.

Chef Dennis said...

your bruschetta looks so very very good!! and I love heirloom tomatoes we just don't see many around here

Heff said...

STILL WAITING, lol !!!

Culinary Smackdown judging is TAXING, isn't it ?

intuitive eggplant said...

True dat, Heff. But I didn't have a predetermined winner :) Results are finally up. Thanks for playing, and for your patience.