02 June 2008

Just my humble opinion...

These strange, ridged Sicilian tomatoes (their name sign reads Costaluta di Marsala) began showing up at Venice’s produce stands about a month or so ago. Usually they were hard and sickly yellow-green, sometimes with a tinge of copper. Many were puny, smaller than an egg, like these. I paid them no attention whatsoever… until I noticed the Venetians greedily snapping them up by the sackful. Live and learn!

They don’t look so special but they are, without question, the most delicious tomatoes I have ever eaten. I consider myself something of an expert, having grown up biting into big, red, juicy Michigan “beefsteaks” right from the field and still hot from the sun. But these babies have a flavor so intense, it almost made me weep. They remind me in a sweet-tart way that a tomato really is a fruit. The only problem with them is that it’s tough to be patient while they sit on the windowsill and get ripe and rusty-red.

How best to enjoy them? That’s easy! Room temp, sliced, served alongside a split-open burratina (a soft little ball of mozzarella that was hollowed out and stuffed with uncooked curds, which continued to ferment in there and become creamy and runny), a few small leaves of fresh basil, a twist of black pepper, and the best olive oil one can afford. Taste before you salt! And don’t forget a thick, crusty slice of fresh ciabatta to mop up the juices and curds left in the bowl. Perfect!

Gardeners reading this, I know just what you’re thinking. But alas, they have no seeds to be stashed away for next year.