This really has been a record year for tomatoes. Here we are well into September, the Tomato Dinners having ended almost three weeks ago, and the farmers’ markets are still overflowing with delicious tomatoes. This year’s peak is actually more of a plateau, where there are amazing dead ripe tomatoes available for weeks on end, due in most part to the steady heat we’ve had. Of particular note are those incredible dry-farmed Early Girls from Dirty Girl Produce. We know we’ve mentioned these before but this year’s crop is exceptional.
We dropped by the Berkeley farmers’ market yesterday to chat with Sales Manager, Stella Araiza about why this year’s tomatoes are just so darn good.
Turns out two waves of tomatoes were planted this year on a newer plot of land in Watsonville that has super rich soil. Because the soil is so rich, the plants continue to flower and flower, producing more and more tomatoes! Because tomato plants really need to be stressed to get that intense flavor, in Stella’s words the soil may actually be ‘too good’.
The first wave peaked right in time for the 2013 Tomato Dinners at Oliveto. The second wave of plantings is just now coming to harvest and the tomatoes are pretty big…bigger than what you normally would expect from an Early Girl. Stella said the first tomatoes in a wave are always a little on the big side, but again, because the soil is so good these big Early Girls are even bigger than usual. They still taste a whole lot better than your average tomato, but they don’t have that super condensed vibrancy the smaller Early Girls are known for. By the end of this week the second wave should be in full swing and there will be less size variation…
but there are still A LOT OF TOMATOES. So many in fact that Dirty Girl will host its first ever Tomato U-Pick at their farm in Watsonville coming up on September 29th. Check their Facebook page for updates. In the meantime, Early Girls continue to grace the current Oliveto menu and probably will be showing up here and there well into October. On the menu this week:
Salad of heirloom and dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes with avocado, fresh Cayenne pepper, Armenian cucumber, and Parmesan cheese
Charcoal-grilled flatbread with dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes, house-made ricotta, Genovese basil, and Frantoio di Campagna olive oil