Friday, 4 September 2020

Rupert and the giant heirloom tomato


Douro is synonymous with grapes and wine but there is another fruit that threatens the hegemonic popularity of these Douro symbols: the tomato. The Douro with a lot of sun exposure and great thermal capacities provides the perfect growing conditions for the tomato, allowing it to develop certain characteristics such as flavour and juiciness.
Anyone who likes tomatoes seriously knows that the Tomate Coração de Boi (beef heart) variant of the fruit is the king with an unbeatable flavour. Now is the best time to enjoy it. Because even though we eat (bad) tomatoes all year round, the truth is that this is a fruit like any other,that has a season.
Named for its shape and size,it is very fleshy and has few seeds, and has very thin skin, which makes it fragile and difficult to transport.It demands a lot of light,therefore  it finds in the Douro a privileged 'terroir' for its cultivation.
This huge, delightful, big-flavoured, full figured, luscious, ruby-red ambrosial and glorious fruit is hugely popular in the heirloom tomato world and comes to us from the fertile fields bordering the banks of the river Douro.To me, one of the best tasting tomatoes in existence.These big hearty tomatoes are heavy-in-the-hand and grow in clusters of 3 or 4, each weighing 10 oz. to 2 lbs. and have the depth of flavour and fragrance we would hope for in our own tomato gardens.Sweet,rich and meaty with silky texture and incredible layers of flavours,I am tasting one as I write this. Just a few seeds,lightly acid,delicately perfumed,This tomato is fabulous,really weighty,full of juice and I didn´t even slice it.It could almost be a mini pumpkin. I´m eating it as I would an apple,juice running down my neck and dripping onto my T shirt and my arms.I´m having to watch out for the keyboard.This giant tomato is an indeterminated variety of Italian heritage which has been part of the history of the Douro for generations.It´s relative is the traditional tomato of Italian gardens.

To highlight the immense flavours and showcase the vital statistics of this heirloom,I set about reinventing a traditional Spanish dish.Paamb tomàquet, or Pan con tomate, is a traditional food of Catalan, Valencian, Aragonese, Balearic and Murcian cuisines in Spain. It is considered a staple of Catalan cuisine and identity. It is a traditional national dish of Spain, so I must be wary of being a Meddling Madeleine or else I will end up with a Jamie Oliver "Paellagate" scenario, or being accused of siding with the underdog no onionist tortilla brigade.As a culinary heretic,I would probably be punished under the infamously brutal Spanish gastronomic inquisition.
Pan con tomate is traditionally a humble dish, a way to make a single tomato and some old bread serve a family for lunch. Outside of Spain it becomes a posh name for tomatoes on toast.First of all I will give you the authentic way of making it in Catalonia.Please correct me if I am wrong my Catalonian friends.

1. Grate the tomatoes on a box grater. Using a microplane, grate the garlic onto the tomatoes. Season with kosher salt, the olive oil and the vinegar, and stir lightly to combine.
2. Toast or grill the bread until it is lightly charred.
3. Place a heaping tablespoon of the grated tomato mixture onto the bread, then wipe most of it off with the spoon. Drizzle with olive oil again, add
the sea salt, serve immediately.


Now for my "all new" 
"posh tomatoes on toast"


1 coraçao de boi (beefsteak) tomato
Rustic artesan bread 
2 cloves garlic
Small tin of cured anchovies
generous bunch of basil leaves
Aged balsamic vinegar (Belazu)
Extra virgin olive oil
I large garlic clove cut in half lengthways


Remove the core and seeds from the tomato
Cut the tomato into medium sized chunks
Place the tomato chunks in a medium sized bowl
Chop as many anchovies as you deem fit
for your particular palate
Add them to the tomatoes

add the two garlic cloves crushed
Tear the basil leaves and add them to the tomatoes and anchovies
Drizzle the mixture with a generous libation of olive oil and balsami

( as you would a salsa )
Leave to marinade for 10 to 15 minutes

When ready to serve
               Toast or grill the bread until it is lightly charred
                Rub the toast all over with the cut garlic
                      ( as you would a bruschetta )
                Cover the toast with a generous serving of tomato mixture
                Scatter a carpeting of Marcona almonds on top as garnish

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