Tomato Season 2012 Update


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.


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.

2017-09-12T15:48:02-07:00August 7th, 2012|2012, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

Menu for Late-Season Tomato Dinners 2011

September 13th – September 16th




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

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

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

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

2017-09-12T15:48:15-07:00September 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


Tuesday through Friday, August 23rd – 26th

Smaller items, soup, salads

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

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

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


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

2017-09-12T15:48:16-07:00August 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.

2017-09-12T15:48:17-07:00August 1st, 2011|Market Reports, Summer|0 Comments

Late Winter Update from Brookside Farm

Flavor King pluot in bloom, photo by Welling Tom

Flavor King pluot in bloom, photo by Welling Tom


Here’s a report from Welling Tom of Brookside Farm in Brentwood, CA:

There wasn’t as much rain this year, but there was fog for most of January, so that constant wetness and lack of sunlight caused much of our broccoli to rot during that time. The soil has also remained too wet and sticky to allow for much planting of new crops. We did manage to sow some sugar snap peas during the past 3 weeks, and can only hope that it hasn’t been too cold for the seeds to germinate.

Last Saturday’s cold snap in the Bay Area affected Brookside Farm in a completely unexpected way. For the past couple of years, we’ve been ordering our tomato seedlings exclusively from Kassenhoff Growers, located in Oakland. The owner/operators have been our friends for many years, and Oakland has always had much milder winters than Brentwood or any other inland areas, so things have always worked without a hitch. But last Saturday morning, it was just as cold in Oakland as it was in Brentwood, so much of the earliest tomato plants were killed. A relatively small loss for Brookside Farm (as we will be getting more tomato plants that were started at a later time, and were thus under heavier protection), but a major loss for our friends at Kassenhoff Growers.

Tomato season will probably be getting another late start this year.

As of this week, many of our fruit trees (pluots, apricots, peaches, nectarines, and Asian pears) are beginning to bloom. Our trees always seems to bloom later than others of the same type located not too far from here. For this year, late-blooming may be advantageous. None of our trees were in full bloom last weekend, so perhaps we have avoided any frost damage there. It just remains to be seen after the petals drop whether any damage was done or whether the rain will have caused any significant interference in pollination.

Welling Tom

2017-09-12T15:48:26-07:00March 9th, 2011|Brookside Farm|0 Comments

Market Report #12: Tomatoes?

We’re seeing the first few trickles of tasty tomatoes, but not nearly what you’d expect for mid-August. We got some solid information from Bill about this year’s weird weather and how it has effected tomato crops in northern California.

In the hopes of things heating up in time for a late-late summer ripening, we’ve pushed back the dates for the 2010 Tomato Dinners to September. Fingers crossed.

2017-09-12T15:48:37-07:00August 23rd, 2010|Market Reports, Summer|0 Comments

Tomato Season 2010 off to a slow start

While tomatoes seem to be very late this year and our farmers think most of their crops are three to five weeks behind, looking back on Tomato Watch 2009 gives us some perspective. We’ve got Chef Canales reporting from the Farmers’ Market on July 27, 2009 the “official arrival of tomatoes” so perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a pattern in these later harvests over the last few years.

This year, because the rainy season went so long, we’ve pushed the dates for the 2010 Tomato Dinners

[reserve] back to September 15 – 19 and are watching and waiting. Recently, we’ve seen the first few cherry tomatoes and Sun Golds, and just this week some delicious “ugly” Early Girls.

In the meantime, we had fun revisiting Tomato Watch 2009 so we collected the posts here and thought we’d share:

Highlights include:
Joe Schirmer of Dirty Girl Produce on Dry-Farming in post #2, and then on July 3rd with further dry-farming information. Also, Joe’s own video reports in post #5 and #10 are of special note.

Riverdog Farm explain their growing cycle and how and when tomatoes are picked in posts #18 and #20.

Brookside Farm’s Welling and Ann Tom show us lovely pictures and thoughtful reports on their season in Brendwood, culminating in the October 1st Dead Ripe video.