Monday, September 29, 2014

Tasting in the Garden: Focus on Tomatoes!

Sunday evening we met in the garden for a Tasting showcasing our tomatoes and continuing to experience and taste our melons.  So much bounty and generosity from nature, from our gardeners, and from the man who provides our tomato plants to us each spring... Bob.  His wife confided that he plays classical music for them and touches each plant every day while he is nurturing them in preparation for planting in the garden.  I don't think I have ever seen healthier tomato plants anywhere and now I know the secret to providing strong young plants for gardeners.  Perhaps we should consider a stereo system for the garden????

But the food...  where all the energy in our plants ends up.  It was spectacular as always.  What a wonderful group of cooks we have in our community.  Starting from one end of the groaning table to the other we had:  stuffed tomatoes, dried tomatoes on mozzarella toasts, the gracefully aging unripened nectarine chutney and Santa Rosa plum compote, a medley of tomatoes, peaches, peppers, and who knows what else (cook's secret!) in a salsa/chutney, melons freshly harvested from the garden, oven roasted parsnip 'fries', a gratin of potatoes with kale (for recipe, click HERE), oven roasted Roma tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes with roasted Shishito peppers, savory tomato pie, blue Italian plum cobbler, fresh pesto and baguette, a sweet tomato sorbet that didn't harden (for recipe, click HERE - but either the tomatoes need to cook down a bit more or someone ... that would be me... didn't leave the ice cream maker freezer base in the freezer long enough), and melon lassi (recipe link available through the melon blog post).

I could probably go on for pages about the specific taste delights of each recipe but instead I'll simply remind you that a picture is worth a thousand words so here is a novella.

Yellow tomatoes cooking down for the sorbet

Stuffed tomatoes & dried tomatoes on mozzarella toast.

Oven-roasted parsnip 'fries' and fresh melon
Fresh tomatoes with Shishito peppers;
oven-roasted Romas

Potato and kale gratin
Blue Italian plum cobbler 

Pesto made from garden basil 

A late breaking addition, we harvested one of our ripening pomegranates.  In a way, those bitter sweet seeds summarize what's best about our Tastings.  Not only do we enjoy the fruits of our labor through the dishes we prepare at home but we also often turn directly to the garden and harvest something to eat fresh, in the moment.  Sometimes it's a freshly concocted salsa.  Sometimes it's fruit warm from the summer sun on the trees.  And sometimes it's one of our abundant and ever-volunteering melons.  But, I still haven't talked anyone into trying some of our ever-present bugs...

Although the days are getting cooler and the plants are yielding their last for this season, our Tastings will transmute into the winter potlucks of our business meetings.  The socializing and the enjoyment of good food that make our garden a community garden will continue year round, as always.

Links last checked on 29 September 2014.

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