That Unmistakable Sweet Flavor

For me, the taste of summer is the unmistakable, sweet flavor of sun-ripened tomatoes, fresh from the farmers’ market or the garden of a generous friend. 

Growing up, my father always had a backyard plot for his treasured tomato plants that yielded varieties such as beefsteak and better boy.  Throughout the summer, my most important chore was to hop on my Schwinn and pedal to the bakery at Park Road Shopping Center to purchase a loaf of salt rising bread, which cost 25 cents.

Upon return, Daddy would give the sun-warmed tomatoes a quick rinse under the faucet before slicing them onto bread slathered with Duke’s Mayonnaise.  Lunch, and often supper, would consist of a simple, tomato sandwich reverently partaken with an observance and gratitude of Daddy’s tomato harvest.  Sweet memories.

Today, I would like to share with you my favorite 2012 version of the perfect celebration of the tomato, created by Executive Chef Adam Rose and prepared in Il Palio’s kitchen. This tomato plate would be a delicious prelude to one of Chef’s new summer entrees, or savored as a light refreshing lunch celebrating our markets’ bounty. 

Summer Tomato Plate with Burrata Cheese

Sun-ripened tomatoes
Wedge of burrata cheese
Light sprinkling of sea or kosher salt “to accelerate the flavor” (Isaiah Allen)
A drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar, followed by a drizzle of olive oil
Chiffonade of basil leaves

Sommelier, Chetan Reddy’ s wine suggestion:  Bollini, 2010, Pinot Grigio. 

I caught up with Isaiah Allen, Il Palio’s Chef de Cuisine and owner/farmer of Rocky Run Farm, at the Southern Village Farmers’ Market, where he sells produce from his farm. Allen and Chef Rose agree that their favorites for the tomato plate are a mix of Valencia, Pineapple, Cherokee Purple, Green Cherokee, and Indigo Rose. 

Visit the markets, meet me in Il Palio, though most importantly, celebrate tomato* season!

* Extensive research has revealed that the French claimed the tomato had aphrodisiac powers, therefore, the name pommes d’amour, “love apples.”

Farm To Fork 2012

I am just over the moon about this upcoming event and wanted to share information with followers.  Next Sunday, May 20,  from 4 – 7 pm there will be what Bon Appetit magazine has dubbed the “Best All You Can Eat Feast in the Country” and it is being held right here practically under our noses!

The 2012 Farm to Fork picnic will feature pairings of 28 of the Triangle’s best chefs with 28 local farmers whose combined talents and resources will result in amazing dishes that they are eager and delighted to share with you.  If that weren’t enough, there will be 11 food artisans whose creations range from farmstead cheese to local mint julep jelly.

Talk about celebrating our markets’ bounty! 

The event, held annually at the Breeze Farm in Hurdle Mills, is sponsored by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), Orange County/Breeze Farm Incubator, Slow Food Triangle, and the NC Agricultural Foundation. Proceeds from the event will support new and beginning farmer programs at CEFS and the Breeze Farm Incubator, including apprenticeships, education, and mentoring for aspiring farmers.  With the average age of North Carolina farmers at 59, recruiting new farmers is necessary to meet the state’s future food needs. 

One of the event’s participating chefs (and farmers) is Isaiah Allen, Chef de Cuisine at Il Palio restaurant and a new farmer who, along with his wife, established Rocky Run Farm in Hillsborough.   Says Allen, “With a culinary background, growing good honest food just makes sense.  Farming has fallen into place for us and has been heavily influenced during my time spent at Il Palio…Our plan for Rocky Run is to grow produce as sustainably as the land and resources will allow.”

Isaiah and Whitney Allen with rapini, a key ingredient in Il Palio’s Farm to Fork dish

This event usually sells out early, so purchase your tickets soon to join in an afternoon of  revelry and culinary deliciousness!

Tickets for the event are $100 per person, which includes drinks (non-alcohol, beer and wine), and may be purchased at

To read the story by Bon Appetit, visit: