Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Attack of the Tomato Killers at SPLAT!

On Sunday, McCully's Hill Farm held its second annual Savour Perth Local Annual Tomatoes (S.P.L.A.T) Festival. Although a large proportion of the tomatoes that are being grown in the McCully's Community Garden Co-op have been threatened by blight (booo!), a veritable rainbow of heirloom varieties were nonetheless available for attendees to taste along with pairings of local cheeses courtesy of nearby C'est Bon goat cheese, Monforte Dairy, and the Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop.
The heirloom varieties available for tasting included the day-glo-orange Persimmon; the exotic Green Zebra; the yellow Golden Queen; the small, dark Chocolate Cherry; and my favourite, the Rose (which looked like a conventional red, round tomato, but had an extraordinary juiciness and flavour that was better than any tomato I'd ever tasted).
When paired with the creamy fresh cheeses on offer, and sprinkled with just a touch of salt, the raw tomatoes alone were certainly cause to celebrate the late summer season.
But that was really only the beginning! Larry from Pazzo's Pizzeria & Ristorante (whose chefs have a large plot in the Community Garden) was serving up some beautiful Margherita pizza with a thin crust and fresh mozzarella, drizzled with chili oil. This went really nice with the Stratford Pilsner beer and/or the chilled Ontario VQA wines that were available, especially on such a hot day!
These oven-roasted tomato and C'est Bon chevre tarts created by the McCully's team were destined for an early demise... in my belly.
But I think my two favourite samples at this feast-of-all-things-tomato were the C'est Bon Billy Jack quesadilla with fresh salsa, and the green tomatillo gazpacho (which was cool at first, then spicy, then cool again when you took another sip, and then spicy, ad infinitum...). It was all gorgeous - with an emphasis on "gorge".

No McCully's festival would be complete without some messy food madness (if you missed it, check out the previous post with video of me getting humbled at the In Your Face pie eating contest in July). While the giant hillside vegetable catapult is reserved for the farm's pumpkin season Fall Harvest weekly celebrations (I can't wait to get out the heavy artillery!), on Sunday kids and adults were invited to take aim at a big bull's-eye with some hefty, overripe tomatoes. For all the tomato rights activists out there, McCully's manager Sara Bradford assured us that all of the smashed tomatoes that landed in the basin under the target would be used to make some of the amazing tomato-based preserves they sell  at the McCully's store (their heirloom tomato ketchup is highly recommended), and the rest of the massacred tomatoes would be fed to the goats! I'll leave you with a video of some kids getting their SPLAT-on:

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