Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Unofficial Tomato, Corn and Eggplant Fest

Alas, Verrill Farm cancelled their annual Corn and Tomato Festival due to the huge amount of rain that soaked their fields. But we created our own mini-version, buying enormous amounts of tomatoes, corn and eggplants that we ate throughout the week.

The corn was just phenomenal-really the best we have had. They were selling 3 versions and each were flavorful, sweet and crisp. So often corn tastes solely of sugar or, if it is not truly fresh, of starch. But these were much more complex and delicious.

As for the tomatoes, the first few days we simply sliced them and ate them with a dusting of salt. My son loved asking for tomatoes by color and we enjoyed comparing the acidity and texture of the green, reds, oranges, yellows and purples.

Later in the week, I cored and chopped some San Marzanos and added them to garlic that had been briefly sauteed with oil. I cooked it for about 6 minutes (any longer and the sauce is too sweet for my taste.) When it was done I threw in some chopped fresh basil and some salt. We ate that cold with roast chicken and warmed up over pasta. And then, when the tomatoes began to grow old and we couldn't eat any more, I made the fantastic tomato jam (almost a chutney) care of Mark Bittman and ate that with more roast chicken. It is was a bit too sweet (I left out the jalapeno and ginger so that my husband and son would enjoy it, but I think that it left out critical flavors. Next time I will spice up my own version, at least.) Another night I made a grilled cheese sandwich using sharp cheddar and the jam spiced up with extra cinnamon and ginger.

As for the gorgeous white eggplants, once again, these were as good as it gets. One night we sliced them in thick rounds and grilled them with some olive oil and salt. They were meltingly tender and truly creamy with no bitterness. The next night I cubed them and sauteed them in a cast iron skillet. I then served them over polenta with some grilled sausages and more of the tomato sauce. They were not inexpensive, but they were worth it.

Finally, for the first time, we bought sandwiches at the market inside and had a lovely picnic with our boys. The eggplant panini (a hot pressed sandwich with grilled eggplant, fresh mozzarella and pesto) was absolutely addictive. And the setting, fields of corn and beautiful flowers was serene, while the atmosphere, benches set under tents, was perfect for a toddler to run freely after he ate his lunch.

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