Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tomatoes Provençal (sort of)

August brings some serious goodness to our local farmer's market. Check out these sugar plums and apricots - my two and a half year old practically tore the bag out of my hand when I got them home. Actually, these might be a bit late this year because of all of the rain we've had this summer. I think sugar plums typically arrive in July.

Eat them or paint them?

As wonderful as those plums are, tomatoes are my favorite food-thing about August and September. There's been a lot of talk about tomato blight this year, about how the crop will be small and very expensive. Crossing my fingers that this will not be the case, and so far the markets seem pretty well stocked, prices seem about normal.

I got my first heirlooms of the summer this past weekend from Bill Maxwell's farm in New Jersey. These tomatoes need nothing, they're utterly delicious on their own. We chose three varieties, and I cannot remember their names - I think they are green stripe, purple velvet, and the third one escapes me. A few drops of Peter Liem's amazing olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and voila - the best thing I've cooked all year.

Keep it simple.

Everyone knows that fresh tomatoes can be finicky with wine, and vice-versa. Tannins and fresh tomatoes don't get along so well. We ate these heirlooms with a very fine bottle of white Provence wine, the 2006 Domaine Henri Milan Vin de Table Le Grand Blanc, about $30, Imported by Meilleurs Vins de Provence and Domaine Select Wine & Estates. Disclaimer - I received this wine as a sample from the generous folks at Meilleurs Vins de Provence. I also shared some friendly and informative emails with one of the owners, and viewed photographs of him and his son tasting wine in a Provence cellar. He has not yet sent me a Rolex, but I'm working on him.

Milan farms biodynamically and makes, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful wines of the region, white or red. The soils for the white wines supposedly resemble some of the Grand Cru plots of Chablis, with blue marl and limestone. Le Grand Blanc is a blend of 30% Grenache Gris, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Roussanne, 10% Muscat, and 10% Rolle (aka Vermentino). It is fermented and raised for a year in used barrique.

The nose is very fresh with pears and oxidative notes of orange peel. It is airy and broad, clean and pure, potent and lively, a very beautiful nose. Later on there is a bit of barrel toast and caramel on the nose, and that's fine in this case. The fruit is vivid and almost tropical, with a rich oily texture. This is a well balanced and complex wine with an intense nutty finish that keeps crawling up the nostrils. It went beautifully with the tomatoes - it is neither tannic nor acidic. I know that $30 might sound like a lot for a VdT from Provence, but this is one of those amazing-wines-that-terrify-the-INAO-and-so-is-denied-appellation-status wines, and it is worth every penny.


TWG said...

I thought you only fried with the good stuff.

Brooklynguy said...

TWG - not sure what you mean-

TWG said...

I meant the oil. Maybe you forgot but Peter may not have: