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Tomato and burrata tartine

2013 July 9


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.

I lunged.


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.


5 Responses
  1. Darlynne permalink
    July 10, 2013

    Wonderful. You: 1, King of chipmunks: too many to count.

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      July 10, 2013

      Sometimes, the small victories mean the most. ;)

  2. July 10, 2013

    Tomatoes are truly the best part about summer! And I love the dark fun color of the Cherrokees. And I feel you on the chipmunk issue…and rabbit, or ground hog or vole in our case. My mom has been spraying her garden with hot sauce for days! But we got some hungry friends hanging around!!

  3. July 13, 2013

    I love this time of the year, not for the weather which is too hot for me, but for the tomatoes. Nothing compares to summer tomatoes. Glad you beat the chipmunk to the first prize of the season!

  4. July 22, 2013

    Beautiful, just beautiful!

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