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.”