Thursday, August 04, 2005

Beautiful Heirloom Tom-aaaah-toes

photograph picture of some delicious heirloom tomatoes from Balakian farms
(click on the picture to enlarge)
I couldn't resist sharing this picture of Balakian Farm's tomatoes with you. The numbers of different sizes, shapes and colours available never ceases to amaze me. CUESA - The Centre for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, has recently changed their website. They now have a great web page featuring all the farmers that sell at the Ferry Building. This is how I discovered that Balakian Farms is actually 200 miles from San Francisco, they were the only people I forgot to ask when shopping last week. A market organiser explained to me that they try and keep the market vendors from within the San Francisco Foodshed but that if a vendor from a little further away is allowed, it just means they are exceptional, that's all.

When I left the UK 4.5 years ago, I'd never hear of an heirloom tomato. I wonder if they've caught on in Europe yet?

PS. Yesterday's eating local challenge was more of a failure. I started well with a breakfast of Cowgirl Panir Cheese, June Taylor Cherry and Almond Conserve and a pluot from Frog Hollow Farms. For lunch we went to a little place close to our office called Seafood and Pasta Kitchen where I tried to ask the manageress about their food sources. She doesn't speak English as a first language so the conversation was a little difficult. From what I gathered, the fish is fresh, not frozen but it is delivered by a big company that serves San Francisco and Sacramento. She told me that in the mornings they get up early go to a market either in San Francisco or Oakland for vegetables. She said yes when I asked her if it was a farmers' market, but I suspect she, just means vegetable market, unless there are some for-trade farmers markets I don't know anything about. The fact that she was confused about why I was asking the questions, and wasn't prepared with any answers, suggests that most people really don't care about where their food comes from.
We went to buy some water. Fred refuses to drink anything but Perrier but I invested in a couple of bottles of local Calistoga instead. Then I weakened and had a Crunchie Bar. I'll call that a cultural necessity. In the evening, I met with seven friends for dinner at an ethnic restaurant I will be reviewing next week for SFist. I was totally out of energy for asking non-English speakers questions about food sources and so I drowned my sorrows in a pint of Boddingtons (another cultural necessity). I am sorry, I just couldn't face the Sierra Nevada. Failed!

posted in and and
Beautiful Heirloom Tom-aaaah-toes


  • At 4/8/05 08:41, Blogger Monkey Gland said…

    You can get hierloom toms if your prepared to hunt around a bit.

    Don't be too hard on yourself about the Boddingtons. I used to live a mile from the brewery. So count it as local by association!

  • At 4/8/05 09:22, Blogger Barbara Fisher said…

    Sam--honey--don't say you -failed-. The challenge isn't a measure of worth, or a test you have to "pass." This isn't Lent--we are not giving things up in order to sacrifice ourselves or make ourselves holy.

    I see this as a call to become more aware, more conscious, that is all. Please don't let guilt become a component of this--let it be fun, a game, if you will.

    If you get all harsh with yourself and let guilt rule the day--you are more likely to not enjoy the process of learning about local food, and it will become a chore, or something dreadful to you to avoid.

    There are no winners and losers to this challenge. The only way to lose is to stress out over it and let guilt take the upper hand.

    You are just too good-spirited, fun and upbeat a person to do that to yourself! Be positive. That is why I like to read you--your personality shines in your writing, and I don't like to see you be crappy to yourself.

    Okay. I will cease lecturing now....

  • At 4/8/05 09:40, Blogger tara said…

    Chrunchy bars would break down the most steadfast of resolves. They are just that powerful. I add my voice to the "Don't let Sam beat herself up" chorus. This is a great exercise in paying attention to what we eat and where it comes from. It isn't a contest, and you've already succceded through your curiousity about ingredients.

    And, the tomatoes are just gorgeous. I just finished a lunch of ciabatta, cheese and tomatoes (with a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper), so seeing those made me grin.

  • At 4/8/05 10:01, Blogger Sam said…

    Hey guys & gals - thanks for your concerns. i really appreciate it. But it's ok, I am not feeling guilty or beating myself up really. I mean, how bad can eating a crunchie or drinking a Boddingtons really make anyone feel :)

    You have to remember I am English - and we are a self-deprecating bunch. it's just our style. So all I am doing is being conscious of my own shortcomings and sharing them with you lot.

    Just think how annyoing you would find me if I was all full of myself and if I was acting out as little Ms Perfect by suceeding with this challenge 100%.

    And anyway, my friend Jam Faced used to live near the Boddingtons brewery, so I am now local by association(I hope he is going to tell me he used to live next to the Marmite factory as well).

    I am having fun - it is a an interesting game, and best of all - I am learning something new everyday and I hope my readers are all enjoying learning along with me.

    toodle pip...x

  • At 4/8/05 10:01, Blogger Clare Eats said…

    Those tomatoes look soooo good!!!

  • At 4/8/05 10:01, Blogger sfmike said…

    I'm finding this "local food" series absolutely brilliant and hilarious, and I think Miss Sam is indulging in a bit of English irony when she confesses repeatedly to having "failed." She doesn't strike me as someone who beats herself up.

  • At 4/8/05 11:42, Anonymous sarah said…

    beautiful tom-ay-toes! ;)

    and i wish i could play with you and jenn and everyone in the "eat local" challenge...but truly, i would fail at EVERY meal, LOL!

  • At 4/8/05 11:45, Blogger Sam said…

    I am off to LA LA land for the w/e and looking forward to failing all over the place :)

  • At 4/8/05 12:28, Blogger Owen said…

    Ignoring the whole eat local thing for a moment,

    that photo of tomatoes is really exceptional, Sam. I absolutely seriously think you should look in to how big you can blow it up before you start seeing pixels and then have it printed that large (11x14) on archival paper and mounted - that's really nice still life.

    I am enjoying munching on my Terra Firma Farm Heirlooms every week (pick up more this evening!) - heirlooms are one of their specialties. They don't come to the Ferry Building Farmers Market but they do come to Berkeley and Marin.

  • At 4/8/05 15:51, Blogger Barbara Fisher said…

    Well, I am glad to know it was just British self-deprecation happening. I withdraw my well-meaning but ill-aimed lecture, then!

    But--I second Owen's notion that you should print out that photo. Very, very nice lighting--it makes the colors rich, almost like an oil painting.

  • At 4/8/05 16:06, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    See Sam? Supertaster. Sierra Nevada is too hoppy; Boddingtons -- mellow.

  • At 4/8/05 16:08, Blogger Culinary Hag said…

    Heirloom tomatos? Gosh, absoutely don't know what they are? We just get the bog standard semi round red/green tomatoes. If you're feeling 'exotic', plum and vine tomatoes are available.
    Crunchie bars...chocolate covered honeycomb bar right? Gosh that's a blast from the past from my Aussie childhood. Haven't seen them in the UK though...probably haven't looked close enough.
    I understand the Arnotts brand (used to be Aussie owned) have been boought over by Americans. I love all their products...esp. Tim Tams. Whenever anyone goes back home I get them to bring back a few packets. Although you can get them in a few Tescos over here. But back home they have increasingly funky flavours - chilli, tia maria, mocha, white chocolate. Oh and I love love love cheesy Twisties and even cheesier Cheezels.
    Sorry going off on a sugar/salt verbal rampage here and you were talking about designer tomatos:)
    And thank you for adding us to your link list and lovely comments. Am currently in Sydney at the moment, but as soon as I get back, it's business as usual. We love your website...keep up the good work!


  • At 4/8/05 17:11, Blogger Greg said…

    Sam inquiring minds want to know! How do you produce so much content on your blog? Great photos,links,
    etc,etc.You got a staff of twenty?? Blog on. ;)

  • At 4/8/05 21:55, Anonymous mrs d said…

    Gorgeous tomatoes!

    If Chopper were reading over my shoulder right now, he'd make you a deal: You can call Boddington's "local" if he can as well. :-)

  • At 4/8/05 22:38, Anonymous del4yo said…

    this photography is so amazingly good that first I thought it was some test for a very good new kind of 3d rendering...

    :)I feel a little bit like a geek suddenly.

    Theses tomatoes by the way, looks like and have the same taste as the one you can find in northern Italy. I wonder if there is any connection?

  • At 4/8/05 22:48, Blogger Sam said…

    Mrs D: All Chopper has to do is go and make friends with Monkey Gland at Jammed Face and he'll be sorted by association. Monkey Gland is a new, but extremely useful blogging friend, who lived within a mile from the brewery at one point in his life. Plus he's quite funny too. I think you will both take a shine to him.

    Greg - it's because I eat local, organic, sustainable food that I am so full of energy and vitality. It has made me into a superwoman who cannot stop blogging. Eat your local veg 3 x a day and there will be no bloggy stopping you either!

    Culinary Hag - I suspected as much - these are not Euro tomatoes. WHat about Oz - are the tomaaaahtoes upside down there? I have been to sydney and I loved it. Especially the 'Roo carpaccio and the King Island Cream.

    CookieCrumb - but i read on wikipedia that supertasters don't like the taste of alcohol so i counted myself out of the club. Am I back in then?

    Barbara - hey no worries - it was nice getting a lecture for a change - and it was such a nicely put one - Fred doesn't like it when I get only positive comments all the time so I expect you pleased him.

    Owen - why thank you - I a happy with the look, but I am not 100% sure about the composition. I will definitely print it and see.

    Mike - you know me. clearly. Hey - can you wait for the soup? I am off to LA to see D for her birthday and I wont have time to go to the market for another week.

    Clare - they do look good - but in a couple of weeks I think they will be really at their peak. Can't wait.

  • At 4/8/05 22:51, Blogger Sam said…

    Del - you must have commented whilst I was commenting.
    Hey forget the tomatoes. I had an idea you might be even more interested in - how about Sorrel Souffle?
    Lets try and make some one evening the week after next??? or sometime before we go on vacation, I know its an offer you cant refuse - huh?

  • At 5/8/05 04:47, Blogger Monkey Gland said…

    Culinary Hag, you can get your hierloom toms here, if your knocking around the South London area...


  • At 6/8/05 03:09, Blogger Niki said…

    Something I've long wondered; what *is* an heirloom tomato? (and, of course, it's pronouned tom-ah-to. It sounds so much like a cartoon character otherwise!) They sound like something your grandmother would give you the night before you get married....

  • At 6/8/05 07:28, Blogger Sam said…

  • At 7/8/05 16:57, Blogger Culinary Hag said…

    Thanks Monkey Gland - that's just around my area! Brilliant! Will check it out once I'm back in London.
    I'm sure Sydney has some heirlooms...they have just about anything on veggie front.
    Yeah...I love Sydney too. Brilliant to visit...even heavenly to live in.

  • At 25/9/05 09:45, Anonymous Jen said…

    Hey! Thanks for the wonderful comment on the Vegan for a Day - very kind. It seems though that we are the two 'still-life with heirloom tomatoes' in the DMBLGIT. Yours are such excellent shapes! Nice Shot.



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