Tuesday, August 31, 2010
There is something so satisfying about growing and eating your own food. And tomatoes like all berries are absolutely spectacular when they are in season and horrifying when they are out. I have been working on a tomato recipe with my good friend Maggie, that has a tomato water gelee, tomato paper, tomato consume and while all that is wonderful. I feared a great injustice would be done if I didn't take the time pay homage to a simply prepared exquisite dish. A friend of mine was in Italy and asked what was in the tomato salad. The Italian waiter replied, "Tomatoes." It is good enough for the Italians and it is more than good enough for me.
Tomatoes ripened in the August sun need nothing to be delicious, but they become sublime when kissed with sea salt, gently anointed with Sicilian olive oil, and blanketed with basil and mozzarella. When making such a simple dish, with so few ingredients the quality becomes paramount. Now, I could just say the best you can find, but allow me a small tangent about a few things.
A good homegrown or farmers market tomato, sliced gently is key. Some flake sea salt, I like Maldon the best. Their product is consistent and perfect. It melts beautifully when hot or it provides just a little extra crunch with perfect clean sea-like flavor. Good mozzarella, freshly procured, still in it bathing liquor. I like the bocconchinis, possibly because of the name (it means little mouthful) and partially because that was my nickname once upon a time. But choose any you like as long as it is good and fresh. There is a place in Arthur Avenue called Casa Mozzarella in the Bronx, NYC. It is my true confession that I have waited in line in freezing cold two days before Christmas to get a few pounds of super fresh still warm mozzarella. Basil freshly picked, just buy the little plant, leave it in your kitchen, you won't regret it. If you feel adventurous, few grinds of pepper and a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar add more depth of flavor.
Soft Mozzarella Cheese
Pepper and Balsamico (optional)
1. Slice the tomato and cheese
2. Create a beautiful display either overlapping neatly or jumbling the ingredients in a wonderful delicious pile
3. Sprinkle with sea salt and lightly pour around some oil
4. Enjoy greedily or share with someone you truly, truly, truly, love, or simply enjoy greedily, alone giggling with pleasure
As always, much love, many blessings, and happy summer!
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