Tomato and burrata tartine
The turn of the month brought rain.
A bloomin’ ton of rain. It rained and rained, and then when we had our fill of rain, it rained some more.
I’m not a fair weather gardener (I can be spotted pruning tomatoes in a downpour), but when the gardens turn to mud — ooey-gooey, boot-sucking mud — it’s best to stay out of things ’til the dust settles (so to speak, ha ha).
But on Sunday, the clouds parted and the sun shone so brightly I squinted all day long. I tiptoed through my gardens for the first time in days, stepping carefully on strategically placed stones, and peered through the tomato leaf canopy, searching.
My heart skipped a beat: red.
Deep, dark red. The green-shouldered burgundy globe of a ripe Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato, perfectly formed.
Traditionally, the season’s first ripe tomato goes to the King of Chipmunks. (Unintentionally, of course.)
Invariably, I wait one day too long, accurately calculating the perfection of ripeness, but failing to take in to consideration that a chipmunk’s standard of tomato delectability is far more forgiving than mine — orange will do just fine by him.
The last I saw, the Cherokee Purple’s green was just beginning to fade to a wan, dusky rose. With sunshine, it would be pick-worthy in 3 to 4 days. A long string of dull overcast weather, however — almost unheard of in July in the Midwest — left a question mark.
But the rain, whose excess I cursed (mud!) and praised (overflowing primary and back-up rain barrels!) in equal measure, must’ve kept the tomato-lovin’ critters at bay.
It was gorgeous, unblemished, perfectly colored.
And it was the star of my very favorite lunch of the year so far:
Fresh rosemary bread, lightly toasted, smeared with burrata — crazy-wonderful, cream-filled mozzarella — topped with the chopped tomato of my winter dreams, and sprinkled liberally with fresh basil.
Tomato season is here, people. Let the feasting begin.