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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Summer is dead... Long live the Summer

Ask any farmer, vineyard manager, gardener, and avid farmer's market shopper and he or she will tell you 2010 was not your typical Walla Walla growing season.  Spring was cold and long.  Summer was mild and never really showed up until late July.  I think July 4th recorded a high of 84! (shocking considering our first four July 4ths as Walla Walla residents came in at 102, 104, 108, and around 119, or at least they felt that way)  And when our summer heat finally did arrive it didn't come with any gusto, every night cooled considerably, which seems to be a major contributor to tomato ripening (or at least that what my farmer friends say).  So here we are, the last days of September, a couple of weeks later than usual for grape harvest and crush, and the weather is just a perfect 80 everyday, with pleasant nights, and those tomatoes I dream about in July are here in abundance... and all I want is for this to last for at least another month.  That seems fair considering how inconsistent our weather has been this year.

My favorite tomato photo of the year.

Heirloom roma tomato, oven dried, on a wafer thin crostini, extra virgin olive oil, and a couple of leaves of fresh thyme.  Boring to look at, fantastic to eat.  We were going to serve these with a bit of goat cheese... glad we didn't, they were so clean tasting served so simply.

Fresh picked local corn soup, thyme cream, and prosciutto bits.  I told Brian (the cook) to infuse some cream with a ridiculous amount of fresh thyme.  It was so powerful the cream was faintly green, and by itself tasted rather medicinal and unpleasant.  But as a component for the smooth sweet corn soup it was perfect.

So we have been obsessed with tomatoes and watermelons ever since we did a large salad for a wedding in July.  This was our sixth or seventh version of the paring done for a wine dinner.  We blanched and peeled all the cherry tomatoes, flash fried some sweet cayenne peppers, splashed some extra virgin and kosher salt, and drizzled the whole thing with some balsamic glaze (which is the part I would rather take back) and a tiny dash of smoked paprika. 

The most lovely kitchen assistant I have ever had.  This little lady (who is also my little lady) came to Terra Blanca Winery with me for a cooking demonstration/class.  She was a big help, and looks super cute in the Graze apron.


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