Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

Summer and tomatoes go hand in hand. This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the third annual Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival, a fundraiser for Georgia Organics – a wonderful organization that supports local farmers. Hosted by JCT Kitchen and encompassing the Westside Provisions District, the festival featured Atlanta and Southeastern restaurants offering up tastes of tomatoey goodness. For someone who follows Atlanta chefs, it was a like a who’s who of culinary gods. Let me just name some names – Kevin Rathbun of Rathbun’s, Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene, Steven Satterfield of Miller Union, Hector Santiago of Pura Vida, and of course, Ford Fry of JCT Kitchen. We’re talking James Beard Award winners and Top Chef Masters here.

Steven Satterfield of Miller Union.

Yet, the great thing is that the chefs were not the star of the show – it was all about the tomato. Each chef was paired with a local organic grower. Everywhere you looked there were tomatoes – red, green, yellow, large, small, spotty, striped – all manner of varieties. Ticket holders were invited to walk around and try samples of each chef’s tomato creations and boozy concoctions from local mixologists. I am not one for Bloody Mary’s, but I’m happy to say that I found several tomato cocktails that I quite enjoyed. My favorite was Pura Vida’s Rio Rosa Swizzle. I’m not sure what all was in it, but it was good!

Many of the chefs incorporated a Southern theme into their creations. I saw several different versions of pimento cheese, for example. Scott Serpas’ Pimento Grilled Cheese with Jalapeno Tomato Jam was a stand out. My favorite ice cream place, Morelli’s, was there with an olive oil ice cream with tomato compote that I sadly did not get to taste. My only complaint is that several of the tables ran out of food before the end of the event. However, it was all for a good cause and I left VERY full and happy. For more info and photos of the festival and the official winners, visit the Facebook page. I’m so going again next year!

A view of the festival.
After a brief, maybe 12 hour hiatus, I was back on eating tomatoes. In fact, today for lunch I made a tomato sandwich with some very ripe tomatoes I picked up at my local farmer’s market last week. Growing up, tomato sandwiches were a staple of summertime. We always had tons of fresh ripe tomatoes from papa’s garden. My Papa George grew the best tomatoes in the world. His garden was so prolific, he used to load up his extra tomatoes in his truck and sell them around town. Sometimes people would just show up at their house looking to buy some tomatoes.

A tomato sandwich, back then, consisted of bread, mayonnaise, tomato and a little salt and pepper. That’s it. Now, I’ve never been a fan of mayonnaise – which is not very Southern of me, I admit. I always scraped the mayonnaise off my sandwiches and whined as much as possible about it. As an adult, I learned to make the sandwich without mayo. Again, nothing fancy – just bread, cheese and a simple summer fruit allowed to shine.

Farmer’s Market Tomato Sandwich

Whole Wheat Bread (mine is from Highland Bakery – one of my local favorites)
Tomato Slices (2-3)
Feta or Goat’s Cheese (mine is from Decimal Place Farm here in Atlanta)
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Parsley (dried or fresh)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Slice cheese and toast on bread. Add tomato slices, salt, pepper and splashes of vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle with parsley. Sandwich bread together, slice in half and enjoy!

How do you like your tomato sandwiches? Mayo or hold the mayo? Thanks for reading and I hope you are enjoying your tomatoes!


  1. Mayo!!! Lots and lots of mayo!! I'm ready for more tomatoes after my hiatus as well. The Rio Rosa Swizzle was oronoco rum, sour tomato syrup, falernum, fresh lime and bitters! Best drink!!!

  2. Mmmmm tomato sandwich! So simple, so good. Sometimes I think the simplest dishes are the most delicious, don't you? I love mayonnaise (homemade or good quality organic), but feta cheese is also a favorite, so it's a tough call! Maybe I should say all of the above? :)