We are obsessed over tomatoes. Every year we plant a few tomatoes and carefully watch over them. One year it was the squirrels who took ownership of our tomatoes. Another year it was the wiggly caterpillars I could not bring myself to kill. Last year we bought one of those fancy net cage/tents, thinking we were so smart. I shudder to think what animal put a big hole in the back to get inside and take a big bite out of every tomato. This year we planted but we also made a reservation to join many other tomato fans at the six- (yes 6) course dinner at the Eden East Farm. An urban farm located in East Austin, Texas.
We started the dinner with Bloody Mary’s and followed with tiny corn cakes with green tomato jam from Confituras. On to mozzarella with fermented chiles, tomato salad with smoked vinaigrette from Buffalina Due. Just as we started to get to know our table mates and drink our red wine a huge gust of wind and dark ominous clouds appeared. The incredible staff “yelled” to us all, time to move under the open roof and get cozy on the picnic tables. All of us talking loudly and moving quickly with our wine and forks. The rain was coming down!
Luckily everyone was in it to win it (eat it). More wine and a wonderful seafood and tomato chowder – sweet corn,celery,perilla,purple lambs quarters from Eden East. Then a few umbrellas came out for the people with their backs to the outside, and these wonderful platters of mayonnaise sandwiches showed up. I wanted to eat them all. Tiny pieces of sourdough bread topped with tomato and tomato leaf mayonnaise, fried garlic and gulf of Mexico sea salt by Dai Due. At this point thunder clapped and wind swept through and many glasses of wine tipped on the table to land in the lap of my white dress. We jumped, we screamed, we laughed, we grabbed towels and the wonderful woman next to me leaned over and said. “soak it in half Dawn dishwashing liquid and half hydrogen peroxide, I promise it will be back to white in the morning.” We filled our glasses and raised a toast to new friends just as the basil pasta with garlicky tomato sauce and pecorino cheese arrived (just in time to warm us up) by Vespaio. At this point my sandals are soaked even though I have a nice pile of hay underfoot and it is getting cool but we are deep into conversations about all our lives and then a plate of something very exotic arrives. Grilled marinated tomato with fromage blanc, lardo, gastrique, fried kale, záatar by Justine’s Brasserie. Ok I admit this was my favorite. Then, just when I thought I could not be surprised or to be honest eat anything else, they brought out Lemon Boy tomato upside down cake with marigolds. Yes, read that sentence again. Upside down cake with lemon boy tomatoes garnished with marigolds by Barley Swine. Not sweet, but just the perfect morsel to end a dinner that was outside in a wonderful urban garden, filled with all the elements you would want in the summer. Sun, Rain, Bugs, People, Chickens, Wine, Laughter, and Chefs who love what they do and love and respect each other. The tomato brought us all together with a love and appreciation of slow food.
I recommend all these restaurants if you visit Austin and for those of you who live here please support these amazing creative people.
Enjoy your summer.