Local Bounty: August 20
Strawberry Fields Forever
From left to right: chocolate & Juliet Grape cherry tomatoes, Cherokee and Brandywine tomatoes, Japanese tomatoes
The Carlsbad Strawberry Company, which most folks here know as the Carlsbad Strawberry Fields, has been around since 1948. They’re the folks with the U-Pick Strawberries at the corner of Cannon Road and Paseo del Norte, just east of the 5 freeway.
Well, strawberry season is slowing down, but you can find Carlsbad Strawberry’s other produce at a variety of local farmers markets—Carlsbad, of course, but also Mission Hills, La Jolla, Pt. Loma, UTC, Chula Vista, Rancho Bernardo, Mira Mesa, Imperial Beach, Escondido, and the Morena District. At the Mission Hills Wednesday evening market, I found cukes, jalapeño peppers, zucchini blossoms, and tomatoes. Magnificent tomatoes. We had kind of an iffy start to the tomato season this summer since it was so cool. But now, we’re at the height of the season and I picked up bags of them to play with.
At home I love growing Sweet 100s, but I’m a sucker for other varieties I find at the markets. Here, there were a few to choose from: chocolate, Juliet Grape, and Japanese cherry tomatoes. The chocolates were too irresistible to pass up, with their deep dark swaths of colors that range from brick red to musky brown. My plan for these (if I can refrain from snacking on them) is to cut them in half and toss into a bowl of steaming whole wheat pasta, along with pieces of mozzarella and goat cheese, chopped basil, olive oil, and sea salt. The heat from the pasta will partially melt the cheese, which together with the olive oil will yield a lovely sauce, requiring no cooking (beyond the boiling the pasta). $2.50 a basket
The stall had two boxes overflowing with a rainbow collection of big, juicy heirloom tomatoes. Chubby yellow pineapples, multicolor Cherokees, and solid red Brandywines. What to choose? Well, a mix of all of them. The Cherokees are a vision sliced and will probably be layered with slices of the pineapple tomato in stacks with creamy burrata, a mix of herbs, red onion, smoky sea salt, and a drizzling of grassy young olive oil. The Brandywine tomatoes are sweet and dense—a little watery alone for sauce, but a perfect addition to Romas. Of course, I could just slice them up for a toasted cheese sandwich on hearty sourdough bread or a BLT. $2.50 a pound
The multicolored Cherokees may have the produce sex appeal, but Japanese tomatoes have a heft and sweet tart flavor that make them my go to tomato for frittatas, gazpacho soup, and for a tomato tarte tatin. Their large size also make them perfect for stuffing. $2.50 a pound