Saturday, January 2, 2010

Why we should pay more for our tomatoes

Thanks to Belle, I was reminded that I had made a promise to myself to visit the Eveleigh Markets at Redfern sometime this year and her blog told me that the last one for 2009 was going to be on the 19th of December. I was going to be in town for Kylie Chan's book signing so decided to go a bit earlier and check out the markets. I hadn't realised how close they were to Redfern station otherwise I would have made the trek earlier. I arrived about 11.30 which meant a lot of the more popular stalls had sold out but there was still plenty to look at.

I found some loquats, bought a big bag of achacha (which we ate Christmas day and later Lobo ground the skins up with water and filtered it to make a very refeshing drink, possibly even tastier than the fruit itself which was a little acidic!). I also bought some Colombian coffee beans, some marshmallows and other sweets from Sweetness the Patisserie and wish I had brought a chill bag with me so I could take home some of the meats and charcuterie that was also on sale, during my wandering a stallholder who had finished for the day handed me some huge cherries to get rid of the last of his stock!

The most I spent at the markets were for two boxes of heirloom or heritage tomatoes. I thought I was overdoing it but on bringing them home and tasting them, it turned out they were a worthy investment.

I wasn't able to identify the different types of tomatoes but they were the sweetest most flavourful tomatoes I've ever eaten, even the green ones Belle! You don't have to wait until they ripen.

I know it's a cliche to complain about the state of supermarket tomatoes and the complaints have come from every generation for a very long time, ever since the industrialisation of our food supply it seems. Heirloom tomatoes hark back to a time when food was not uniformly produced for ease of transport and storage, when variety was available from small farms and local market gardens. The sale of produce from heirloom seedlings are an attempt to preserve diversity in our food supply which is why it is definitely worthwhile paying more for better quality produce.

My craving for heirloom tomatoes began with a scene from Julie and Julia where Julie is frying bread (in butter of course) for a starter with lots of chopped tomatoes. This is strange as there is no mention of a bruschetta type dish in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, well I only checked volume one so maybe it was in volume two? Ahh, the power of visuals, I know I wasn't the only person to be so affected as lots of bloggers have discussed a recipe for that dish!

Anyway, I chopped up the tomatoes, added EVOO, a little salt, some thinly sliced red onion and tore lots of basil leaves into the mix. Let it sit for a little while to let the flavours blend and in the meantime, toasted some bread and slurped a little quality EVOO onto the toast, top with tomatoes, easy as!

The tomatoes were so delish you really didn't need the additions in fact I popped the leftover tomatoes straight into my mouth to taste just how good they were, green, yellow, stripey or mottled all were equally delicious.

That photograph above is why it's worth paying extra for the real deal! Let's support farmers who are trying to give us an alternative to cheap but not so great produce. But of course it's also cheaper if you try growing your own if you have the sunshine and the space!


  1. oooohhhh whatever brings back lovely tasty tomatoes is fine with me. Tomatoes rock!

  2. I can never get over how wonderful heirloom tomatoes taste! I think it's ruined me for regular tomatoes! :P

  3. Yum yum, your bruschetta looks amazing. Great tomatoes are definitely worth the investment, and what a sweet end to your markets trek with a free stash of cherries :) Cherry on top indeed!

  4. Haha, I've never seen so many tomatoes together in my life! Not like that anyway - but they do look amazing. As does your bruschetta. I vote that you make that for our next foodie picnic! =)

  5. oh this post reminds me of the momofuku tomato dish using all different colour cherry tomatoes served with silken tofu, it looks so beautiful. I must do it one day when I can lay my hands on some beautiful cherries :)

  6. The heirloom tomatoes certainly look fantastic! Good to know they tasted good, too. There's a recipe in the Dec/Jan delicious mag for heirloom tomato and mint salad that is worth trying. If only they had those tomatoes at the market all the time...

  7. Thanks HP, heritage tomatoes rock!

    Hi Lorraine, I think I'm ruined for supermarket tomatoes too now!

    Hi Helen, yep, it's going to be a favourite destination for me now.

    Hi AY, you're on, it should be pretty easy to make and serve, hehe!

    Hi Billy, wow I must look up the Momofuku dish, I highly recommend the heritage mini toms!

    Hi Belle, thanks for the tip, I'll have to recheck my issue!