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Tomatoes with your Wine – What do you like? + a Bonus Story!

Line up!

A quick little story before we head off to Portugal. Last night, Gabriella and I harvested our first tomatos from our rooftop garden. Well, in truth “garden” is a bit misleading, because it’s more like rooftop “planter” or rooftop space. After being told that we need to find a new home, we’ve put all projects on hold. Rest assured that wherever we move next in Catalunya, we WILL have a grilling terrace and another garden! We were able to harvest 5 tomatoes last night, and we’ll probably have about 10 or more in the coming weeks. Tossing them with some olive oil, sherry vinegar and S&P, we sat down with some grilled salmon and a wonderful Albariño. The tomatoes tasted incredible, regardless if it was because they were ours, and I have to say, the natural richness of the 3 yr old Albariño really paired well with both the salmon and the tomatoes. It’s amazing how sweet a tomato can be when left to fully ripen on the vine.

I have a quick story of my grandpa and my first real tomato! I was probably only 5 years old when this happened and my recollection is a combination of other people’s stories and blurred images infused with warm emotions. My grandparents lived in the country. Today that country is not so rural, but at the time, it was a house with a nice chunk of land and gardens all around it. Grandma and Grandpa were not very wealthy, but the land they owned – full of fresh produce, raspberry bushes and trees – today, feels like an estate I would gladly trade the world for. My story begins on one of those days that you spend at the grandparents so as to give your parents a much needed rest. Typically, these days would involve me following both my grandpa and grandma around, trying to keep there attention and help them with any little task they came up with. It was during one such day that my grandpa turned to me and said, “Ryan, today I’m going to show you how to eat a tomato.” At the time, I probably thought he was a bit mad. I knew how to eat stuff, and at that age, I was probably eating everything I could get near my mouth. Growing up takes a lot of fuel!

Grandpa and the Tomato

What I can infer from my memories is that it was probably late summer when this occurred and the big Beefeater tomatoes were hanging heavy on the vines. I guess when I say big, I meant big in the same way everything seemed larger when you remember your childhood. Following my grandpa, we headed out into the rows of vegetables to find the suitable educational tool. Given the choice, I’m sure my eyes grew large and as I proceeded to pluck off a tomato that took both of my little hands to grasp. I do remember that it was enormous and redder than the any Crayola crayon, I’d ever drawn with. Walking back to the grassy exterior of the garden, I climbed up on my grandpa’s lap within the folds of the old nylon webbed lawn chair. Grandpa magically produced a salt shaker from one of his many pockets, and proceded to tell me to take a lick of the tomato. Eager to please, I took a long lick and watched as grandpa sprinkled a little salt on it. Turning to him in curiosity, I distinctly remember him saying, “take a big bite out of it”! I opened my mouth wide and let the remaining baby teeth sink as far as I could into the sweet red flesh.

Valminor Albarino

Looking back, I remember very little about what happened next. I’m sure I ended up with tomato guts dripping down my chin, coating both me and my grandpa’s lap. I do remember being very happy, and I wouldn’t doubt for a moment that I probably lobbied for another round after we finished off that first red monster. I can assure you though, that to this day, I love tomatoes. I really love tomatoes. Home grown, all the better. I love to watch them hang from their stems until they almost pull the plant to the floor and the red skin becomes so bright, it glows. I miss my grandpa from time to time, but the truth is, I never eat a fresh tomato without thinking of him. Some say eternal life is when others continue to hold your memory and share it. For me, that memory will never fade as long as I can grow a new plant each year.

So there’s my story. And now I ask you. Do you have a tomato story? How about a favorite recipe? How about a wine to pair with tomatoes? Fresh ones are often hardest to find a match for. Enjoy the weekend, and for those of you with gardens growing, enjoy your tomatoes, I know I will!

Cheers,

Ryan Opaz

Ryan’s Notes:

  • 2004 Adegas Valmiñor Albariño Rías Baixas O Rosal – Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas (7/27/2007)
    12.5%
    I was told last May that Albarino’s shouldn’t be drunk in the first 2-3 years. This was from some very prominent producers located in Galicia. I didn’t believe them, until now. Probably not stored in the best of conditions, I bought this on closeout and I now wish I had bought more. Almost neon yellow, green in color the wine seems to have more in common with nuclear waste than wine at first. I have to say I was very happy when I stuck my nose in my glass to find a wine that came alive with minerals, light pineapple, mandarin oranges, white flowers, and limes. Wow, great start and the palate only got more fun as we went along. Medium to high acidity with a full mouth feel that coats you with pineapple fruit and lime zest. Nuts, and minerals dance in and out and this full bodied white wine ends with a mouthfeel that lingers on light feet, gently fading from the mouth and leaving you looking for more. Great wine and I will look for more!
    4.5 grape

Gabriella’s Notes:

  • 2004 Adegas Valmiñor Albariño Rías Baixas O Rosal – Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas (7/28/2007)
    Fabulous wine! Neon green with bright golden tones, this wine is delicious. Pineapple jumps out of the glass followed by it’s friendly fruits of ripe pear and apricot. Add a dash of mineral and herbs and you have a fun nose. The mouthfeel is bright without being overly acidic. Pineapple, almonds and powerful surge of lime. Although it is rare that I find an albarino I don’t like, I would happily seek thing out again!
    4.5 grape
  • RichardA

    Mmmm…must be something in the air because I have been seeing tomato references everywhere lately it seems. We have a small patch of tomato plants as well, and they are delicious. Recently at a high end restaurant, I had a unique tomato dish. It was the Tomato Water Martini with Basil Oil, Caper Berry and Tomato Popsicle. It arrived in a Martini glass, and was a clear liquid (except for the dollops of bail oil atop it). They had somehow extracted all of the color out of the tomato juice to make a clear liquid, which tasted exactly like a ripe tomato. The popsicle was a small square of frozen tomato as a garnish. It was very interesting and delicious. I also recently was sent a link to Tomato Casual, a new blog all about tomatoes, including growing them and recipes (<a href="<a href="http://www.tomatocasual.com).http://www.tomatocasual.com).<br />”><a href="http://www.tomatocasual.com).www.tomatocasual.com).<br /> Then, while reading "Bon Appetit" magazine yesterday, there is an article on Chef Sal Marino of the Il Grano restaurant in Los Angeles. Once a week, he has an all tomato menu, from cocktails to gelato. The article has several of his recipes. Though the article is not online yet, it probably will be posted soon. (<a href="http://www.epicurious.com/bonappetit) “>http://www.epicurious.com/bonappetit)

  • RichardA

    Mmmm…must be something in the air because I have been seeing tomato references everywhere lately it seems. We have a small patch of tomato plants as well, and they are delicious. Recently at a high end restaurant, I had a unique tomato dish. It was the Tomato Water Martini with Basil Oil, Caper Berry and Tomato Popsicle. It arrived in a Martini glass, and was a clear liquid (except for the dollops of bail oil atop it). They had somehow extracted all of the color out of the tomato juice to make a clear liquid, which tasted exactly like a ripe tomato. The popsicle was a small square of frozen tomato as a garnish. It was very interesting and delicious. I also recently was sent a link to Tomato Casual, a new blog all about tomatoes, including growing them and recipes (<a href="<a href="http://www.tomatocasual.com).http://www.tomatocasual.com).<br />”><a href="http://www.tomatocasual.com).www.tomatocasual.com).<br /> Then, while reading "Bon Appetit" magazine yesterday, there is an article on Chef Sal Marino of the Il Grano restaurant in Los Angeles. Once a week, he has an all tomato menu, from cocktails to gelato. The article has several of his recipes. Though the article is not online yet, it probably will be posted soon. (<a href="http://www.epicurious.com/bonappetit) “>http://www.epicurious.com/bonappetit)

  • RichardA

    Mmmm…must be something in the air because I have been seeing tomato references everywhere lately it seems. We have a small patch of tomato plants as well, and they are delicious. Recently at a high end restaurant, I had a unique tomato dish. It was the Tomato Water Martini with Basil Oil, Caper Berry and Tomato Popsicle. It arrived in a Martini glass, and was a clear liquid (except for the dollops of bail oil atop it). They had somehow extracted all of the color out of the tomato juice to make a clear liquid, which tasted exactly like a ripe tomato. The popsicle was a small square of frozen tomato as a garnish. It was very interesting and delicious. I also recently was sent a link to Tomato Casual, a new blog all about tomatoes, including growing them and recipes (<a href="<a href="http://www.tomatocasual.com).http://www.tomatocasual.com).<br />”><a href="http://www.tomatocasual.com).www.tomatocasual.com).<br /> Then, while reading "Bon Appetit" magazine yesterday, there is an article on Chef Sal Marino of the Il Grano restaurant in Los Angeles. Once a week, he has an all tomato menu, from cocktails to gelato. The article has several of his recipes. Though the article is not online yet, it probably will be posted soon. (<a href="http://www.epicurious.com/bonappetit) “>http://www.epicurious.com/bonappetit)

  • bbennett

    Vine ripened tomatoes are among the best things about August in Minnesota, along with sweet corn. Mixing the two together IS the best thing, especially on the grill. We like to soak our unhusked sweet corn in water for an hour or so before putting it on a medium grill for 1/2 hour to 40 minutes. Add a little butter or olive oil, and some salt and pepper, consume ala Heckle and Jeckle. The tomatoes will be consumed in a variety of ways. My favorites include Caprese, with our own fresh basil and mozzarella; or stuffed with a cous cous concoction, covered with goat cheese and grilled until the cheese is gooey; or squished over grilled bread (a trick I learned in Barcelona, believe it or not). Yes, they are great straight as well. The wine will depend on the main course, and tomatoes are so versatile that they pair well with most wines. What about the rest of the year? Well, we are fortunate to have a large hydroponic growing facility within a hour of the Twin Cities. The tomatoes aren't perfect all year round, but they are better than they used to be. I eat a tomato every day, so we always have a few on hand, ripening away. "A tomato a day keeps the doctor away", that's my motto. Really enjoyed your article Ryan.

  • http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/ RichardA

    Mmmm…must be something in the air because I have been seeing tomato references everywhere lately it seems.

    We have a small patch of tomato plants as well, and they are delicious.

    Recently at a high end restaurant, I had a unique tomato dish. It was the Tomato Water Martini with Basil Oil, Caper Berry and Tomato Popsicle. It arrived in a Martini glass, and was a clear liquid (except for the dollops of bail oil atop it). They had somehow extracted all of the color out of the tomato juice to make a clear liquid, which tasted exactly like a ripe tomato. The popsicle was a small square of frozen tomato as a garnish. It was very interesting and delicious.

    I also recently was sent a link to Tomato Casual, a new blog all about tomatoes, including growing them and recipes (www.tomatocasual.com).

    Then, while reading “Bon Appetit” magazine yesterday, there is an article on Chef Sal Marino of the Il Grano restaurant in Los Angeles. Once a week, he has an all tomato menu, from cocktails to gelato. The article has several of his recipes. Though the article is not online yet, it probably will be posted soon. (www.epicurious.com/bonappetit)

  • Che

    Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. Pablo Picasso

  • bbennett

    Vine ripened tomatoes are among the best things about August in Minnesota, along with sweet corn. Mixing the two together IS the best thing, especially on the grill. We like to soak our unhusked sweet corn in water for an hour or so before putting it on a medium grill for 1/2 hour to 40 minutes. Add a little butter or olive oil, and some salt and pepper, consume ala Heckle and Jeckle.

    The tomatoes will be consumed in a variety of ways. My favorites include Caprese, with our own fresh basil and mozzarella; or stuffed with a cous cous concoction, covered with goat cheese and grilled until the cheese is gooey; or squished over grilled bread (a trick I learned in Barcelona, believe it or not). Yes, they are great straight as well.

    The wine will depend on the main course, and tomatoes are so versatile that they pair well with most wines.

    What about the rest of the year? Well, we are fortunate to have a large hydroponic growing facility within a hour of the Twin Cities. The tomatoes aren’t perfect all year round, but they are better than they used to be. I eat a tomato every day, so we always have a few on hand, ripening away. “A tomato a day keeps the doctor away”, that’s my motto.

    Really enjoyed your article Ryan.

  • http://www.shout-it-loud.com Che

    Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
    Pablo Picasso

  • Alastair Bathgate

    I am just starting to experiment with a few Albariños having experienced a couple of nice ones on a recent visit to Spain. So far I have been impressed but thanks for the tip about not drinking them too early…

  • http://www.alastairbathgate.com Alastair Bathgate

    I am just starting to experiment with a few Albariños having experienced a couple of nice ones on a recent visit to Spain.
    So far I have been impressed but thanks for the tip about not drinking them too early…

  • Patti

    Ryan – Loved your writing! I can remember that day as if it was yesterday. You were covered in tomato juice and it was a thrill to see you enjoy it so much. I spent three days going thru boxes of slides to find the picture of you eating the tomato with Grandpa A. and it beought back untold memories…..I remember when your dad went to Georgia right after our honeymoon for basic training. After 6 weeks he finally came home. The very first thing after hugs and kisses we headed to grnadpas place, pulled up the driveway, parked and before even saying hi to his mother and father he pulled a salt shaker out of his pocket and headed into the garden, sat down and ate a couple of tomatoes with the biggest smile on his face!! Ahh, the power of a red juicy fresh off the vine tomatoe – transports you to another world!! Bruschetta is never the same unless made with a juicy fresh tomato!!! Gotta go, a tomato is calling my name for a big juicy BLT for dinner….

  • Patti

    Ryan – Loved your writing! I can remember that day as if it was yesterday. You were covered in tomato juice and it was a thrill to see you enjoy it so much.

    I spent three days going thru boxes of slides to find the picture of you eating the tomato with Grandpa A. and it beought back untold memories…..I remember when your dad went to Georgia right after our honeymoon for basic training. After 6 weeks he finally came home. The very first thing after hugs and kisses we headed to grnadpas place, pulled up the driveway, parked and before even saying hi to his mother and father he pulled a salt shaker out of his pocket and headed into the garden, sat down and ate a couple of tomatoes with the biggest smile on his face!! Ahh, the power of a red juicy fresh off the vine tomatoe – transports you to another world!!

    Bruschetta is never the same unless made with a juicy fresh tomato!!! Gotta go, a tomato is calling my name for a big juicy BLT for dinner….