This Just In: The First Killer Tomatoes

Sungold tomatoes are a deep orange and decidedly sweet!

We are so passionate about tomatoes that we try only to feature them when they’re seriously good, and so we’ve been impatiently waiting for them to stun us. We pounced when we found these, from Oya Organics, at last Tuesday’s South Berkeley market.

Oya Organics is a small farm out of Hollister owned by Marsha Habib. Its tomatoes are everything tomatoes should be — succulent and sweet but not too sweet. Sungolds do well at Oya, and they are gracing our crudo of local albacore, avocado, Cherry Bomb peppers, and basil.

Chef Jonah is really on a roll — there’s so much on the menu to bowl you over these days:

  • Salad of grilled Blossom Bluff stone fruit with house-cured guanciale, dill goat’s milk kefir, house-made Santa Rosa plum vinegar, and cured egg yolk
  • Tortelloni of house-made ricotta with Brentwood corn, fines herbes, cured egg yolk, and squash blossoms
  • Charcoal-grilled Paine Farm pigeon and boudin with braised radicchio, malted wheat berries, fig mostarda, and sugo

It’s a great time to come in.

Of course, with the first really good tomatoes, we’re thinking about our annual Tomato Dinners — dates coming soon.

Late Season Tomato Dinners: September 23–26

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Tuesday, September 23 through Friday, September 26

It’s turned out to be another one of those years, where the Tomato Dinners have come and gone and a month later the tomatoes are still going and going, and we feel inclined to do it all over again. So…we are.

This time around it will be a bit more contained: a six-course prix fixe offering to celebrate the latter half of this year’s tomato bumper crop and highlight some of our favorite varieties. The menu has yet to be finalized but will look something like this:

Salad of heirloom tomato and melon with anise hyssop, crème fraîche and pink peppercorn

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Rigatoni with fontina Val D’Aosta, Early Girl tomato and breadcrumbs

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Tortellini of smoked tomato conserva with roasted poultry brodo

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Tomato-poached petrale sole with Butter beans, lipstick peppers, and lemon agrumato (vegetarian option available)

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Charcoal-grilled pigeon with slow-roasted Early Girl tomato, lacinato kale and salsa rosa

or

Black pepper cannoli with house-made ricotta, Parmesan cheese, Early Girl tomato and basil pesto

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Buttermilk panna cotta with melon granita, Early Girl tomato coulis, and candied Sungold tomato

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$65 per person

Please join us!

September 8th, 2014|2014, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

First Tomatoes

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Average temperatures out in Yolo County have been hot but not too hot (95 degrees during the day, low 70s at night) which is great for summer produce. Lots of stuff hitting the market (and the menu) this week including Cranberry beans, zucchini, corn, egglant, and YES, tomatoes! Mainly cherry tomatoes but also our first Early Girls from Riverdog Farm. Chef Rhodehamel has been dehydrating these, then lightly smoking and serving them in a traditional southern Italian dish:

Cavatelli with Santa Barbara sea urchin, smoked Early Girl tomatoes, Calabrian chili, and parsley

Also decidedly summer:

Soup of Brentwood corn with salsa of cherry tomatoes, Jalapeño pepper, and basil

Charcoal-grilled shrimp-stuffed squid with eggplant puree, fresh Cranberry beans, and marinated cherry tomatoes

June 27th, 2014|Market Reports, Summer|0 Comments

2013 Tomato Dinners Countdown: 20 days remain

Although much of this year’s Tomato Dinner menu is still in its wild, unfettered state (i.e. Chef Jonah’s brain), one thing is certain: there will be Early Girls. More specifically:

Farroto-stuffed Early Girl tomatoes with La Tur cheese fonduta and broccoli di ciccio

A favorite here in the Bay Area, the the Early Girl variety reaches its most vivid potential when it is dry-farmed by a skilled farmer whose climate allows for minimal to no irrigation throughout the growing season. Joe Shirmer of Dirty Girl Produce heads up just such an operation in Santa Cruz where he grows Early Girls that are exceptionally sweet and lively with minerality.

We’ve been a fan of Joe and his tomatoes for a number of years and admire his commitment to the practice of dry-farming, as well as its history. Finding little current information available Joe tracked down texts dating back to the 1920s in an effort to understand how to grow vegetables using limited water. In the video above, he imparts some of his wisdom.

Additionally, we found a great online resource, Internet Archive, a non-profit out of San Francisco, that allows you to flip through books like this dry-farming guide from 1909.

Click to flip pages

Click to flip pages

July 30th, 2013|2013, Events|0 Comments

Tomato Season 2012 Update

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We hit the Derby Street 63rd and Adeline market yesterday to check in with some of our favorite tomato farmers and find out how the season is progressing.

Last time we’d checked in things were off to a slower and cooler start than expected which led to our decision to reschedule this year’s Tomato Dinners for mid-September. This time around we found an eye-popping barrage of technicolored specimens representing a wide range of varieties which are all ripening right now. Additionally we were told again and again, this is just the beginning!

Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm

Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm

Judith from Full Belly Farm in the Capay Valley said they planted six waves of tomatoes and currently the second one is just winding down and the third wave hasn’t even started yet! Daytime temperatures are averaging around 100 degrees and the tomatoes are loooooving it. Anna from Catalan Family Farm in Hollister said they are “SWIMMING in tomatoes” and barring an early frost, will probably have tomatoes until October possibly mid-November! Tim from Riverdog Farm said although their season was initially behind schedule, due to a late first planting and then an early heatwave in June that knocked some buds off, the tomatoes are now in full roar. And Karen from Lucero Organic Farm in Lodi, which has a daunting variety of tomatoes on display, said the smaller earlier varieties started picking up speed a few weeks ago but now everything is in full swing.

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Overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices? Come nerd out with us on September 16th when Chef Jonah Rhodehamel will be leading a tomato tasting in preparation for this year’s Tomato Dinners. This is a chance to taste a wide variety of tomatoes from a number of local farmers and hear a chef’s opinion on how they would be best put to use.

Tomato Dinners Alert: new dates announced!

Early Season Perfection - Brookside Farm's Early Girl tomatoes

Early Season Perfection – Brookside Farm’s Early Girl Tomatoes

Gearing up for this year’s Tomato Dinners (originally scheduled for the end of August) we started asking our farmers about how the season was progressing and what we kept hearing back was, actually tomatoes weren’t quite happening…yet.

For the most part the season has been uneven and the requisite temperature spike, necessary for great tomatoes, hasn’t fully arrived. That’s not to say that we haven’t seen some exquisite cherries and other early ripening varieties from some of the regions and micro-climates: Full Belly Farm already has an array of lovely tomatoes, and Brookside Farm has some amazing Early Girls right now.

But we aim to schedule the dinners for the exact moment when all the tomatoes across northern California, from Santa Cruz to Clear Lake, are going off and the season as a whole reaches its peak deliciousness. So in lieu of the news, we have opted to push back our tomato dinners to September and will continue to cross our fingers:

Oliveto’s 22nd Annual Tomato Dinners Tuesday
August 28 through August 31
Tuesday, September 18th through Friday, September 21

If you already have a reservation you will be receiving a call from us shortly.

In gazpacho we trust.

August 7th, 2012|2012, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

Menu for Late-Season Tomato Dinners 2011

September 13th – September 16th

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Antipasti

Cold

Parmesan cheese panna cotta with marinated heirloom tomatoes and watercress

Millefoglie of Zebra tomatoes with summer savory goat cheese, walnuts, and sherry vinaigrette

Carne cruda of Angus beef with Beefmaster tomato, basil, and Parmesan cheese

Gazpacho of Early Girl tomatoes with basil-tomato gelatina

Warm
Fennel sformatino with tomato “maionese”

Fried green tomatoes with lobster remoulade

Salad of warm lamb’s tongue, cherry tomatoes, and new potatoes

Beef polpette all’ arrabbiata with Fiore Sardo Pecorino cheese and arugula

Pastas
Lasagnette of house-made ricotta with heirloom tomato sauce

Durum wheat spaghetti with a long-cooked San Marzano tomato and its juice, garlic, and oregano

Tortelli di pomodoro with garlic crema and rosemary crumbs

Summer savory pappardelle with Early Girl tomato-braised hen

Penne alla bolognese

Grills, sautés, and rotisserie
Gratinata of braised San Marzano tomatoes with Gigande beans, pork skin, and garlic sausage

Sicilian-style stuffed Momotaro tomatoes with Listada di Gandia eggplant purée and Pecorino cheese

Charcoal-grilled tomato-glazed pigeon with Cetriolo tomato slaw, Cranberry beans, and sweet corn

Cioppino of Chilipepper rock cod with heirloom tomatoes

. . . beef, hen, and rabbit dishes to be announced

Desserts
Momotaro tomato water and prosecco sorbetto

Walnut house-made nocino ice cream in cialdone cigarettes with Cherokee Purple tomato sauce

Mascarpone budino with Sungold tomato compote

Jonathan apple-green tomato tarte Tatin with crème fraîche

Brandywine tomato caramel-Valrhona chocolate tart

Pistachio-sultana raisin biscotti

September 12th, 2011|2011, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

Joe’s Early Girls are a Late-Season Stand Out

Video edited by Dallas Mark

As in the past, Joe Schirmer of Dirty Girl Produce has planted two waves of his famous dry-farmed tomatoes, and the first wave which started coming in at the end of August is currently just hitting its peak. And word is definitely getting around.

Yesterday at the Derby Street Farmers Market, Dirty Girl Produce’s Early Girl tomatoes completely SOLD OUT. There was this beautiful, jewel-like mound of them…and then in the blink of an eye they were gone.

Thankfully, we’re planning well enough ahead to make sure we’ve got some for next week’s Late-Season Tomato Dinners (Sept. 13-16). One of the first confirmed menu items Chef Jonah has revealed is Early Girl gazpacho over a tomato-basil gelée.

Check out this cool, old book on dry-farming.

Early-Season Tomato Dinners 2011 Menu

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Tuesday through Friday, August 23rd – 26th

Smaller items, soup, salads
Cold:

Brodetto of tomato with poached white shrimp, lemon verbena, and Sungold tomatoes

Burrata cheese with Early Girl tomato marmellata, arugula, and grilled crostino

Salad of marinated tomatoes

Crudo of tomato and watermelon with Green Zebra tomato gelatina

Carpaccio of Lemon Boy, Green Zebra, and Red Zebra tomatoes, with Regina olive oil, sea salt, and basil

Shaved green tomatoes with abalone, crème fraîche, and smoked sea salt

Oysters with Cetriolo tomato mignonette

Garden lettuces vinaigrette

Warm:
Sformatino of ricotta with marinated Julienne tomatoes

Black Prince tomato tart with chèvre and Parmesan cheeses

Grilled Sardinian-style sausage with sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and mint; roast Lipstick pepper and frisée salad

Stuffed sardine with spicy Principe Borghese tomato sauce and farro

Soup: vellutata of Early Girl tomatoes with Cabot Clothbound cheddar panino

Pastas
Durum wheat bucatini all’ amatriciana

Durum wheat spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, basil, and Parmesan

Pappardelle rosse with tomato-braised beef shoulder, hot pepper, and oregano

Tortelli of pigeon with tomato brodo

Ravioli of Parmesan, ricotta, and mozzarella cheeses with wood oven-roasted tomato sauce

Red winter wheat penne alla bolognese

Lasagnette of house-made ricotta and slow-roasted tomatoes

Grills, sautés, and rotisserie
Charcoal-grilled pork porterhouse with fresh Cranberry beans, oven- roasted tomatoes, and pork sugo

Roast hen rolata with Brentwood corn succotash, Gypsy peppers, and Red Zebra tomatoes

Tomato-braised beef short ribs with Red Flint corn polenta, tomato jam, and beef sugo

Spit-roasted, pancetta-wrapped rabbit loin with fried green tomatoes

Whole-roasted pigeon with farro-stuffed Early Girl tomatoes and long-cooked onions

Spezzatino of 36-month Angus beef with roasted Yellow Finn potatoes, Black Prince tomatoes, and summer squash

Charcoal-grilled pole-caught albacore with eggplant purée, grilled pole beans, and cherry tomato salsa

Involtini of eggplant with fresh mozzarella, basil, and Beefsteak tomatoes; arugula salad

DESSERT:

Green tomato and Galia melon sorbetto; drizzle of Regina olive oil

Thai basil ice cream profiteroles with Pineapple tomato sauce and roasted pineapple confetti

Early Girl tomato, cornmeal, and rosemary upside-down cake with lemon mascarpone cream

Tomato leaf panna cotta with tomato compote

Bittersweet Valrhona chocolate and Brandywine tomato-caramel tart

Post-meal treat: Brandywine tomato pȃte des fruits

August 19th, 2011|2011, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

Market Report #8: Tomato Speculation With Bill Fujimoto

We hit up the Derby Street Market last Tuesday with our favorite produce guy, Bill Fujimoto.

We checked in with Full Belly, Lucero, and Riverdog and saw some BEAUTIFUL early eggplants, Black Eyed peas, first watermelons, and Seascape strawberries. We also got the scoop on what everyone is wondering about…TOMATOES. It was interesting to hear from our farmers about their predictions, especially for us, because we’re trying to “plan” as best we can for our upcoming Tomato Dinners.

Because the season this year has been so weird, and speculation about how the season may (or may not) unfold we’re trying something new: two sets of Tomato Dinners. The first set of Early Tomato Season Dinners will run from August 23 – 26, and then after Labor Day a second set of Late Tomato Season Dinners will run from September 13 through September 16.

From a chef’s perspective, great cooking is about responding to ingredients, and this season will be loaded with challenges for Chef Jonah. We’ll keep you updated on how the season(s) progress and what it means for Jonah as the menu begins to take shape.

August or September, there will be stand-out tomatoes to make each menu terrific. Book now.

August 1st, 2011|Market Reports, Summer|0 Comments