Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Heirloom tomato alert

Posted July 22, 2010

How many of you have tried heirloom tomatoes? Do any of you grow them? How would you describe the taste?

I recently received my annual heirloom tomato alert from Jason Smith. Jason is the chef proprietor at 18 Seaboard and 18 Cantina in Raleigh. Jason says we've reached the peak of heirloom tomato season. Jason hosts tomato wine dinners at 18 Seaboard featuring grilled filet mignon with tomato terrine, tomato gazpacho and upside-down cake with honey-basil ice cream.

Another Raleigh restaurant, Zely & Ritz, also offers special heirloom tomato dinners. The events at this popular Glenwood South restaurant have been extremely well received. The Zely & Ritz web site mentions special tomato dinners on July 28th and August 5th.
What other restaurants offer these delicious tomatoes? What are the recipes? If you know please chime in.

Heirloom or heritage tomatoes are not necessarily pretty or uniform. They can be cracked and cranky but the flavors are intense. They rise up from healthy soil which helps them become disease resistant. The names of heirloom varieties are as colorful as the tomatoes themselves: Cherokee Purple, Chocolate-Rose, Mortgage Lifter, Black Krim and Ponderosa.

For an explosion of flavor bite into one of those ugly maters!


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • angierbluewilfrido Jul 23, 2010

    come on out to the Raleigh Farmers Market to we have German Johnson-Mr. Stripey- Cherokee purple tomatoes!!

  • Smokin Jul 22, 2010

    Daddy always grew German Johnsons. No where near round-they kind of curved up like a fat, stubby banana. Intense in flavor though. Made a great BLT.

  • Zelda Jul 22, 2010

    The Durham Farmer's Market has them as well! The range of flavors and colors is incredible!

  • jbass2 Jul 22, 2010

    Come to the Carrboro Farmers' Market on Saturday morning. Several of the folks there have heirloom tomatoes and they're delicious!

  • elliesmom Jul 22, 2010

    We grow Cherokee Purple and Moonglow (they are orange!). They are delicious. We especially love the Cherokee Purple because it has a really wonderful, rich tomato taste. Great for tomato sandwiches and BLTs!! They don't produce as many tomatoes as hybrids, but the taste is worth it!

  • hollybubba Jul 22, 2010

    This summer I am growing Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter and Cherokee Purple heirloom varieties. I have been extremely pleased with these. The flavor and texture is fantastic. I recommend that everyone try to grow their own tomatoes. It is not that difficult and the reward is worth the effort.

  • brendanarron Jul 22, 2010

    I do not eat the heirloom tomatoes,but my brother-in-law grows them in his tomato hot house in Johnston County. Barham Farms located on Covered Bridge Road, Zebulon. They are a "hit" with some of his customers. 11thchild.

Meet the Author
Bill Leslie