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Oct 7, 2009 02:06 PM

Healdsburg: Blissfully going to Tomato Heaven - 200 varieties at Verdure Farm

Tomato season will be over if I continue to wait for the link in the database to take. I've been waiting a few days now. This wonderful stand should not be missed.

I’m seriously considering driving 50 miles to get more of the gorgeous alabaster tomatoes with the extraordinary lemon flavor … and maybe more of the best, sweetest dry farmed Early Girls I’ve had in my life … in my life.

Only two miles from the center of town, anyone in the Healdsburg area who loves tomatoes should make this a must stop.

There are also heirloom apples, pears, melons and Italian varieties of eggplant, squash and onions.

The Profumo di Genova Basil is available by the stem or bunch and is cut to order. The woman at the stand walks a few feet to the basil patch and … snip, snip, snip … can’t get fresher than that. This site describes the basil perfectly

“I will be forever indebted to my good friend … who specializes in rare Italian vegetables and herbs for introducing this glorious basil to me. Lovely large leaves. Highly perfumed fragrance and so sweet it has to be experienced to be believed.”

The basil and tomatoes drizzled with olive oil was almost an out of body experience. Could anything be so divine?

There are a lot of vendors selling a dizzying palate of colors, but Verdure had the most distinct variety of flavors.

Four types of yellow/white tomatoes were each so different that they could be easily distinguished with eyes closed. Ditto for the five different orange tomatoes … some meaty with both a surprising acidic and sweet flavor … others delicate in flavor. I swear there was one tomato with a hint of lavendar in it. One white tomato had a hint of, well, socks, but when paired with the basil … oh my ... it really rang my chow bells ... loudly.

The prettiest tomato was one of those green tomatoes that is supposed to be green when ripe. When cut open, there was a beautiful blush of pink in the center.

Driving into the small dirt parking lot surrounded by the farm … it didn’t look like much. “This is heaven?”, I thought.

The modest stand is shaded by a huge olive tree and a canvas tarp with a small sign attatched that says "Tomato Heaven'. It is just a few tables, about the size of the average farmers market vendor.

There were only about a dozen crates. However, each box held three to five different varieties. I wish they were labeled but the pleasant woman at the stand knew each and every name, no matter how similar they looked.

The two apples were very nice with an interesting dense yet juicy texture. The Fameuse (snow apple) is described as

“One of the oldest and most desirable dessert apples, a parent of the aromatic McIntosh. Flesh is tender, spicy, distinctive in flavor”

I completely forgot to stop by The Tomato Patch Geyserville which has been reported on this board and described by one chef as having the world’s greatest tomatoes

I have to wonder if they could possible beat the tomatoes from heaven?

Tomato Heaven is open until November.

Verdure Farm - Tomato Heaven
2476 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448
707 433 1403

Late July through November, every day 11-6

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  1. Nice. I wonder if doing both this and the Crane Melon Barn in a day would be doable--aren't they (the melon barn) doing a tour this Saturday?

    2 Replies
    1. re: abstractpoet

      Yes. This weekend is the tour. It would be easy to do both. That was my plan and then I got lost, as usual, in Santa Rosa. That Farm Trails book is really deceptive. Don't rely on their maps to actually find a place. This is the second time I got lost using it. I didn't get to Verdure until 2 pm, then I walked around Downtown Healdsburg a bit and stopped at another farmstand. So it was late in the day when I got lost and I figured by that time I wouldn't make it to Crane Melon barn before it closed. There are a few pumpkin patches along Petaluma Hill road I want to check out, so I might give it another try.

      1. re: rworange

        Alas, the actual walking tour for Crane Melon Barn appears to be completely booked. But I suppose it might still be worth it just to go up to the barn itself. These tomatoes sound great, and I always love the Healdsburg wineries for tastings too.

    2. Boy, you weren't kidding about the socksy whites--those are some of the funkiest tomatoes I've tasted. You could also like them to sweaty gym shorts, with a slight undertone of chlorine. They weren't altogether unpleasant...but I'll admit I did find them a little bit unpleasant, even with the basil. Did you, by any chance, find out what these are called, rworange?

      In any case, this is a great little stand. Among the tomatoes, my favorites were the juicy greens and a crisp bi-colored orange and yellow, which was super sweet and beautiful when sliced. Dry-farmed early girls were very good too. Quite a haul.

      We also bought a Bosc pear and a sweet red pepper the woman said she'd just picked. Haven't tried either of those yet.

      3 Replies
      1. re: abstractpoet

        Heh. No there were too many unmarked varieties and I'm more of a visual person so if I see the name written down I remember it. I'll have to ask the story on that tomato next time. IIRC, they were Roma sized and I bought three. I kept thinking ... do they really taste this way?

        Doesn't sound like the lemon flavored tomato was there on your visit. That is the one I really want to get the name. Anyway, glad you liked the place.

        1. re: rworange

          Yeah, they were somewhat on the small side, and the two that we got both had that funky smell/taste--I think the smell was even stronger than the taste.

          The lemon ones may very well have been there, but we just grabbed a random assortment, including a couple that the woman recommended particularly.

          1. re: abstractpoet

            I went back Sunday and it seems like the funky tomatoes may have been something that cross-bred. It wasn't on purpose

            Speaking of cross-breeding and mystery produce, I bought a lot of the different varietis pf eggplant which included a bright yellow one.

            I ate the mutant yellow eggplant

            I made a final run of the seasonal farmstands. Many had tomatoes, but they looked pale ... .like the ghosts of summer tomatoes past

            The only exceptions were Tomato Heaven and Tierra. Tierra only had one variety, but Tomato Heaven still had quite a few varieties. As far as, cherry tomatoes, the favorites of the owner were the Rose Quartz. They were good but whatever the orange cherry tomatoes were they were my favorite.

            The eggplant, all five varieties, and mutant yellow eggplant were quite good. The peppers were really beautiful as well but I haven't tried them yet.

      2. Can't be there this year, but wanted to remind people that Tomato Heaven is really a swell place ... and I wanted to link.

        Tomato Heaven
        2476 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448

        4 Replies
        1. re: rworange

          Sigh ... let's try that link again

          Tomato Heaven
          2476 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448

          1. re: rworange

            They've only got 90 varieties ;-), but tomato lovers might also want to check out Tomato Day at Morningsun Herb Farm (across the road from Soul Food Farm) in Vacaville. It will run from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM on August 22nd this year.


            1. re: lexdevil

              Today my husband and I went to Fairfield to the Tomato Festival, which was touted as having free tastes of over 100 varieties, with the opportunity to buy from the same vendor that was providing the tastes. We were there on the early side, and I would guess there were about 50 or less varieties on display, with tastes available for half or less of those at the time we were there. I was disappointed by nearly all of them. Even my standby tomato, Early Girls, tasted watery. I am assuming that the problem is that everything is late this year, as celeryroot mentions below.

              The biggest disappointment was the complete lack of tomato related vendors other than the 2-3 produce vendors that had stands by the tasting. The only cooked food vendor that had a tomato item was a Filipino food stand offering "fried tomatoes"--small chunks of deep-fried tomatoes that looked too oily for me to want to try. They were nothing like the fried green tomatoes that I have ever seen--no cornmeal, for one. The same vendor had deep fried asparagus that seemed to be suffering from the same batter and oil.

              Glad I went on a day that wasn't too warm, but all-in-all a disappointment.

          2. After reading this I wanted to go. I love tomatoes!!!! So husband and I went. Couldn''t find a sign, luckly I had the address. There was a nice garden with a ton of tomatoes, but no sign, no produce to sell, no one around. If the older victorian home is part of Verdure it's for sale. Very disappointed driving all that distant.

            4 Replies
            1. re: LMarella

              That is so disappointing. I don't remember a victorian house so can't say. The phone number I had on the place record was 707 433 1403 for anyone else that might be interested. I got that from Sonoma Farm Trails which is still listing them this year

              Here's a real estate listing that really isn't clear on if the home belongs to the farm.

              1. re: rworange

                I just called the number you provided and the outgoing message says that there are no tomatoes yet, so not open, due to the unusually cool summer we're having. She asks that we pray for sun and heat and to check back.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Thanks. I was starting to think it was the curse of my temporarily moving out of town where one after another all my favorite places have been closing. I was starting to take it personally.

                  1. re: rworange

                    You're welcome. I had a feeling that was going through your mind and i didn't want you to worry. Easy enough to call.