At least eight varieties of tomato made it into this salad course.
This past weekend marked the annual ode to the tomato at Manresa in Los Gatos known as the Tomato Modernista dinners. On Saturday and Sunday, James Beard Award-winning chef David Kinch and pastry chef Belinda Leong prepared an eight-course menu in which some of the 60 varieties of heirloom tomatoes grown this summer by Love Apple Farms were incorporated in each course. Grub Street had the pleasure of dining on Sunday, and it became impossible to count how many varieties were covered in each course (we suspect that the final 30 or so were all thrown into the jus in course six). But nevertheless, it was an eye-opening meal in terms of the variety of flavors among these juicy summer fruits. Behold, our slideshow.
topped with a parmesan frico
Prior to dinner we tried one of two tomato-inspired cocktails from beverage manager Jeff Bareilles. This one, the Oxheart, contained Beefeater 24 gin, Armagnac, Love Apple Oxheart tomato, epazote, Mishima beef bouillon, lemon, and lime.
The amuse bouche course continued with this plate of cocktail snacks: albacore tuna rillettes with watermelon and tomato; and tomato-curd sable sandwiched between decadent Roquefort wafers.
Chef Kinch has been doing versions of this salad every summer that the restaurant’s been around, and this year the corn took the shape of a white corn purée which dressed at least eight varieties of fresh tomatoes, with two kinds of basil, chia seed, lemon, and seaweed.
This refreshing bowl contained a remarkably tender yet al dente mirepoix of eggplant, with tomato, and lemon verbena. The effect was very clean and Japanese, and the course was paired with a dry Ichinokura ‘Taru’ sake.
Another light and garden-fresh course, this “tartare” was mixed with the richness of avocado and bonito butter, as well as chickpeas and parmesan.
This was garnished with coconut sauce, celtuce, remarkably candy-sweet sun-dried tomatoes.
Another course that displayed Kinch’s love for Japan: This melt-in-your-mouth tender piece of cod was breaded with anchovy and served with a rich roasted-vegetable jus.
The only meat course: a slice of tender pork with ultra-crisp skin, tomato and fig honey, and a collection of bitter herbs from the frisée family.
Leong’s dessert course was really more of a cheese course, with a sweet element. Olive ice cream was paired here with a sweet goat cheese-vanilla custard of sorts, with walnut crumbs, and “tomato bon bons” which were actually just peeled and barely cooked cherry tomatoes.
Here Leong worked in a surprise: two kinds of macarons that looked identical, which you had to bite into to figure out which was which. One was black sesame, the other black licorice.
These amazing, buttery little Breton pastries closed out the meal, and we could have eaten a dozen. We hear you can get these very same versions from pastry chef Belinda Leong via her new startup business, b. Patisserie, at Farm:Table, Four Barrell, and Grand Coffee. You didn’t hear it from us. As some have already noted, they’re like pastry crack.
Photo: J. Barmann/Grub Street SF