“Totally Tomatoes” Premieres Tonight at Carpe Vino

As the Carpe Vino staff hustles to finish prepping for the start of our “Totally Tomatoes” prix-fixe event tonight at 5 p.m., some last minute thoughts about this singular fruit. . .

My world during recent weeks has been inundated with all things tomato, which is without question the vegetable I prize most highly.  Two weeks ago, I broke out my canning equipment and put up nine quarts of tomatoes (20 pounds).  I’ve been freezing bags of cherry tomatoes all summer, and very soon I plan to make tomato sauce to freeze.

Yesterday I made a batch of tomato soup. . .a lot more complicated and messy that I anticipated.  The process started with a boiling water bath to release the skins, followed by quartering and cooking five huge specimens I purchased at the Farmers’ Market in Auburn.  Then I ran the mixture through a food mill to remove the seeds, and transferred the velvety smooth richness into my Vitamix, along with a combination of celery, red pepper and onion that I had sautéed in olive oil.  I hit the ”blend” button long enough to combine everything and finally added about a quarter of a cup of heavy cream to sweetened the concoction to perfection.  It took me longer to clean up than to make the soup in the first place.  Mah-ve-los!

Sunday’s SacBee had two stories about tomatoes.  An editorial titled, “Appreciation for the Golden State’s perfect comestible,” outlined the importance of the tomato crop not only to our agricultural economy but also highlighted the versatility of this fruit in our diets.  More than 12.5 million tons are produced in the state each year, valued at more than $1.2 billion.

Then there was a seminal piece in the “Feast” section on the pros and cons of refrigerating tomatoes.  After reading the story, I’m still torn.  No matter, I plan on continuing to enjoy this summertime treat as long as they last. . .and that may be late October or even early November.

You can take this to the bank:  Our Totally Tomatoes dinner runs just one week, tonight through September 28.  Click here to view the full menu, one that I described in 14-part harmony in last week’s Window on Old Town.  Chef Alexander has kicked up the volume once again, so don’t miss this incredible tribute to the lowly tomato.

For the uninitiated, this is a four-course event for $59 ++ per person.  There are options for each course, and accommodating vegetarians is a snap.  We’ll be sold out over the weekend, so please make reservations now by calling 530-823-0320 or go to www.opentable.com.