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early girl tomatoes are here!

i
idlehouse Sep 3, 2006 04:46 AM

This year's dry-farmed early girl tomatoes are very very good, you should try to get some before the season's over. I think it's something tierra dry-farmed early girl tomatoes, I can't remember, but Monterey, Berkeley Bowl, Berkeley Naturals, and El Cerrito Naturals all carry them. The price is about $2.59 or $2.39. Monterey puts theirs on sale this weekend at $1.89.

Also, the front asian stand at El Cerrito's farmers' market has their jelly-belly grape tomatoes (it's the first asian farmer stand you see when you enter the area, not the asian stand all the way in the back next to Peach Farm). These are sweet, crunchy and bursting with flavor, you should get some before their short season is over.

  1. rworange Sep 3, 2006 05:00 AM

    Thanks for the tip about those jelly-belly grape tomatoes. I've been focusing on the Peach Farm. I have had the cherry tomatoes at the Asian stand before and liked them. I didn't realize they had different types of tomatoes so I didn't look closely.

    I like that stand. I bought some lovely Thai eggplant today (have no clue what to do with them but they looked nice) and my first bittermelon.

    1. Morton the Mousse Sep 3, 2006 06:24 AM

      Quetzal at the Tues and Sat Berkeley Farmers' Market has delicious dry farm early girls - best I've had.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Morton the Mousse
        a
        Aaron Sep 3, 2006 04:31 PM

        Quetzal's are quite good, but Dirty Girls' are far superior. They have the ultimate dry farmed early girls, but they only come to Tuesday's market. Their tomatoes are sweet beyond sweet and picked at the perfect stage of ripeness, while Quetzal's can sometimes be a bit underripe. A note for those reading this...none of them feel ripe, as the skin of a dry farmed tomato is thick and doesn't give.

        1. re: Aaron
          j
          Joel Sep 3, 2006 07:52 PM

          I second the recommendation for Dirty Girl's "Early Girl" tomatoes at the Tuesday Berkeley Farmer's market. They were just wonderful (I had them last two weeks ago -- they were $3 per pound). Organic, dry-farmed. I tried other vendors' and they were good but not as good as D.G.'s.
          As Aaron mentioned, Early Girls have a thicker skin than other tomatoes, are firm when ripe. And I think the smaller sized ones are better.

          Whole Foods also carries a good version, at about $4 per pound. They have someone's name on the sign -- a more or less local farm. I wasn't that thrilled with the ones at the Bowl last time I went ($2.39 per pound).

          1. re: Aaron
            Morton the Mousse Sep 4, 2006 05:14 PM

            Gotta disagree with you on this one. Dirty Girl grows good tomatoes, and I respect their innovations "in the field," but I have a strong preference for Quetzal. When compared to Quetzals, Dirty Girls are too sweet and too mushy. Quetzals have the ideal sweet/acid balance and their texture is perfect: firm but yielding and juicy. Quetzals also make for a more flavorful marinara. I've never had a problem with ripeness, but I always get to the market early and I inspect every piece of produce carefully before I buy.

            1. re: Morton the Mousse
              m
              Malik Sep 4, 2006 08:18 PM

              I've been buying the Dirty Girl tomatoes at the Saturday market at the Ferry Plaza, and I like them a lot. I usually buy mostly the ones from under the table, which are blemished and sell for $1 a pound. I find them typically riper than the regular ones, as many of them are "splitters", so they're great for making sauces, whereas I use the regular ones for eating raw in salads.

              I'll have to try the Quetzal tomatoes soon, hopefully I'll make it to the Berkeley market one of these days.

          2. re: Morton the Mousse
            s
            sensi63 Sep 3, 2006 05:20 PM

            I second the Quetzals, they are delicious. I have to limit my kids from eating them like apples, sometimes five at at sitting

          3. larochelle Sep 3, 2006 05:32 PM

            They are very, very good this year. Apparently they are particularly sweet this year because the heat wave concentrated their flavor even more than usual

            Last weekend, went down to Marquita Farms and I bought 12 pounds of Early Girls at 50 cents a pound. I also bought 28 pounds of cooking tomatoes. Hopefully today will be the last day of sauce cooking.

            And we're going to have a big tomato-bread salad for dinner. Yum.

            1. rworange Sep 4, 2006 12:04 AM

              The Ella Bella dry farm Early Girls being sold at Berkely Bowl are tasteless. Not even close to the same class as various, interesting tomatoes I've been buying from The Peach Farm. Then again, the one thing Berekely Bowl has always seemed to get wrong is tomatoes.

              3 Replies
              1. re: rworange
                Morton the Mousse Sep 4, 2006 05:15 PM

                Cold storage kills tomatoes by rendering them flavorless. In fact, it kills everything but tomatoes are particularly sensitive. Have you tried the same Ella Bella dry farms at the Temescal market? It would be interesting to compare.

                1. re: Morton the Mousse
                  rworange Sep 4, 2006 06:22 PM

                  Not yet. Yeah, I suspect that the problem with Berkeley Bowl tomatoes has always been refrigeration. I usually only will buy cherry tomatoes there which don't seem as temperature-sensative.

                  This post got me interested in Early Girls and I didn't think it through when I saw them at the Bowl with the words 'dry farmed' and a vendor I liked.

                2. re: rworange
                  Robert Lauriston Sep 4, 2006 06:36 PM

                  The tomatoes to watch for at Berkeley Bowl are the odorikos. I don't rememember the farm--Japanese name.

                3. t
                  TopoTail Sep 5, 2006 12:54 AM

                  I've been getting the Early Girls from Quetzel and have been loving them. Will try the Dirty Girls at the Tuesday market.

                  But here's another tomato tip. Monterey Market has California-grown San Marzanos, the ultimate sauce tomato. They're $1.50/lb., which is a lot for sauce tomatoes, but try these beauties. They're red through and through and very meaty. Try them for sauce, You wont' be sorry.

                  --Richard

                  1. Melanie Wong Sep 5, 2006 02:33 AM

                    Yesterday I was guest for the second annual Sagra dei Caro Pomodoro Estivo in friends' East Bay backyard. The ironic thing is that their own garden had only managed to ripen a handful of cherry tomatoes in time for Labor Day weekend. They had to resort to Monterey Market for most of the bounty, supplemented by contributions from other guests. I couldn't stay long so only caught the initial tomato action.

                    Here's the pile of heirlooms from Monterey.
                    Heirlooms -
                    http://static.flickr.com/92/234457048_70cbe16657_b.jpg

                    One of my favorite things was the poppers stuffed with tuna and a salty caper. These were made with dry farmed tomatoes from Monterey. They were a bit smaller than a pingpong ball and sweet as candy. The skins were thick but not tough, and our host commented that they had a lot of seeds, so he thought stuffing was the way to go.
                    Dry farmed tomato poppers stuffed with tuna -
                    http://static.flickr.com/96/234439973_ad3920e049_b.jpg

                    Also on the table in that photo is a Caprese salad made with Emeril's heirlooms purchased from Yasai market on College. The guest who brought this just shrugged when I asked if they were locally grown, and said they were less expensive than heirlooms at his local farmers market. I looked on the web for more about them and found this.
                    http://www.prideofsanjuan.com/pressreleases/042904.html

                    More photos from Sagra del Caro Pomodoro Estivo II -
                    http://flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/...

                    Edited to add: the tomato gratin was incredible, tomatoes layered with marscapone, then tomatoes with parmigiano, topped with bread crumbs and olive oil.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      Robert Lauriston Sep 5, 2006 02:38 AM

                      Shouldn't that be "Cari Pomodori Estivi"?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        Melanie Wong Sep 5, 2006 02:46 AM

                        Since the hosts are native speakers, I imagine the name of their festival was chosen intentionally to represent the one true tomato. Idol worship. (g)

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          Robert Lauriston Sep 5, 2006 02:50 AM

                          Then maybe "dei" should be "del"?

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            Melanie Wong Sep 5, 2006 02:54 AM

                            Thank you...that part reflects my own illiteracy and inability to make out the title of the invitation. (g)

                            "The second Sagra del Caro Pomodoro Estivo (Festival of the Summer Tomato). Celebrate il bel pomodoro in twenty-seven ways (more or less), with some classic Labor Day barbeque all'americano on the side"

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