September 12-16, 2017, Tuesday through Saturday
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We began our celebratory tomato dinners 27 years ago, when heirloom tomatoes grown by local family farmers were first becoming widely available (Oliveto hosted an afternoon tasting of 100 varieties — our dining room carpet was never the same), and when ‘Flavr Savr,’ the first GMO version of a commodity crop, was being released on an experimental basis. (We managed to obtain one for our panel discussion on GMO foods.) The GMO tomato was a flop, not surprisingly, but the cornucopia of heirloom tomatoes expanded wildly, much to everyone’s—including every home gardener we know—delight. (The photo is of tomatoes from Bob and Maggie’s yard in Oakland.)
Oliveto’s tomato dinners demonstrate just how versatile the tomato is. Over the years, we’ve served refreshing tomato gelées, tomatoes distilled by dry-farming and long, slow cooking, tomatoes in sauces, tomatoes stuffed and in stuffing, variously colored and sized and shaped tomatoes cut and sliced and paired with fennel pollen, sea salt, and stellar olive oils, tiny peeled tomatoes chilled in a vinaigrette, fresh-squeezed tomato juice cocktails, caramelized tomatoes in desserts—all conspiring to make for a broad and diverse–and joyful—experience.
This year’s crop is all over the map, because local farms and climates are all over the map. Up in Capay Valley, Riverdog’s first June crop suffered severely from two weeks of 100+ degree days, which fried the pollen of their heirloom blooms and ruined the yield of their usually hugely diverse first-of-the-season heirloom offering. This week, another severe heatwave will produce its effects. Nevertheless, Riverdog is replete with Marvels, Black Pineapples, delicious Brandywines, and, less plentiful, White Pineapples.
Farms in Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and up in Sonoma are going to have fared differently. We will be emailing you a preliminary menu in a few days, to give you an idea with which inventions Tomato Dinners–2017 will entertain your palate.