Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Heirloom tomato alert

Posted July 22, 2010 9:44 a.m. EDT
Updated July 22, 2010 4:19 p.m. EDT

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!