Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tasty Tomatoes, Indeed!

Today was the 4th Annual Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival. Four years, right in my own neighborhood, and we've never made it until today.  So, the three of us hopped on our bikes and followed the music to City Roots.

City Roots: In-town Sustainable farm

I'm glad we got there early.  Right off the bat, I was able to go through the tasting line, which featured beautiful, colorful and unusual varieties of tomatoes, paired with lovely olive oils from the Crescent Olive over on Devine St. I'm not really much of a fan of the little tiny tomatoes, but I tried the chocolate cherry and another one that was bright orange.  I also sampled the Cherokee Purple,Sun Golds and my favorite Mr. Stripey.  Not only do I love that name, but I loved the fruity sweetness of this tomato. Hats off to the Crescent Olive people on the oils and pairings.  There were baguette slices to dip, salt & pepper to grind and oils from oregano to chipotle. Like I said, I'm glad we got there early, because by the time we left, the tasting line was quite long.

This festival is certainly a celebration of the tomato, which might as well be named the official fruit (yes, Virginia, it IS a fruit) of the South.  The vendors that participated also featured the tomato in one way or another. There was a bloody mary bar, tomato hand pies by Spotted Salamander, tomato basil ice cream by Paradise Ice, fresh squeezed lemonade with add-ins such as tomato-cucumber as well as other fresh fruits, gazpacho, fried green tomato BLTs, regular BLTs. 

Spicy, Spicy!

Spotted Salamander's Tomato Hand Pie
However, the star offering was Rosewood Market's "Old Fashioned 'Mater Sandwiches." I mean, bravo Rosewood Market, for serving up what probably 95% of the Southern population considers the ultimate summer sandwich. We're talking white bread, gorgeous red tomatoes, and mayo.  That's it.  They were also offering a basil "veganaisse" but a purist knows that the 'mater sandwich really isn't about veganism. It's about basic ingredients with juicy tomatoes that run down your forearms as you devour it.

One thing I expected was that I'd walk away with a big bag of cool, funky, crazy-shaped heirloom tomatoes. However, only City Roots had a booth to sell veggies/fruits.  They had some pretty, perfectly round tomatoes, but I wanted some of those lunatics of the tomato world.  Also on the table were yard-long beans, all of City Roots' killer microgreens, lovely basil and what I think were purple carrots.  We were able to walk through the greenhouses too, which was really cool to see.  Outside, they had "Mater games" set up alongside the outdoor garden of the longest row of basil, Japanese eggplants, rosemary, dill, mint, just to name a few.  

Collecting the bean bags for another game of cornhole

In addition to all things tomato, the festival also features kids' games, live music and some killer restaurant offerings.  I regret not being able to attend the first 3 festivals, but am really happy that we made it to #4.  We had a great time, ate some super food, a spicy bloody mary and a couple of good beers and then pedaled home.  If you're unfamiliar with this festival, make sure to check out this link so you can be prepared for next year!

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