A Local Tomato


Chef and the Farmer is a seasonal restaurant. That mantra manifests itself all over the place these days, but really what it means is this: our menu reflects the natural world. When the leaves start to turn and there’s a little nip in the air—like now—I turn to things like apples, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and game birds to spell autumn. The funny thing about our world today is that I could spell autumn all year long using a food service provider and, honestly? You probably wouldn’t know the difference. 

Preachers of the local food gospel, like myself, hate that fact, but fall, winter—even spring—can be expressed on a plate using ingredients from other parts of the country or world to pretty good effect all year long.

Summer is different. Summer means corn, watermelons, fresh beans, peas, and of course, tomatoes. Now, I love me some fresh corn; and watermelon is never quite the same outside July or August. But there’s not enough Duke’s Mayo at Piggly Wiggly to change my opinion of an out-of-season tomato. Even the multi-colored heirlooms at fancy grocery stores turn me off. Shipping, holding, and refrigerating tomatoes makes their color dull, their mouthfeel mealy and their juice more watery than water...if that’s even possible. 

Despite my extreme disdain for an out-of-season tomato, a Cherokee Purple or German Johnson, still warm from the sun, is just about the most wonderful thing I can imagine. And my first tomato sandwich every summer is a private moment I look forward to all year long. 

God Bless the tomato. It has no secrets and tells no lies. 

Things I like to pair with tomatoes...
This is gonna be a long one... basil, thyme, garlic, tarragon, rosemary, cilantro, mint, salt, pepper, eggplant, cucumber, corn, raw, caramelized and charred onion, leeks, all types of cheese, olive oil, bacon, mayo, white bread, crispy bread, cornbread, strawberries, watermelon, smoke, beans, peas, okra, peppers, watermelon, vinegar, sugar