Tomato Time

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By Deirdre Bourdet

Anyone raised eating hydroponically grown tomatoes year round must, at some point in their life, attend a tomato event in an agricultural community. Conveniently, August and September bring with them numerous opportunities to taste the ubiquitous fruit in its full seasonal glory.

The first sign of tomato season is the return of Azzurro Pizzeria's locally-beloved BBLT manciata--a perfectly seasoned thin pizza crust served hot out of the oven, and topped with a mountain of bacon, blue cheese, iceberg lettuce, and tomato.  Hot, cold, salty, juicy, creamy, crunchy, meaty, cheesy, and 100% delicious, the cult following of this dish is explained with your first bite.
On August 6, Back Room Wines offers a few pointers on pairing tomatoes' unique acidity with white and red wines.  For a mere $10 per person, Dan Dawson and his team of friendly wine geeks will guide you through a tasting of pinot grigio, Italian rosato, dry gewürztraminer, and dolcetto d'alba--accompanied, of course, by the star of the season.  All wines poured at the tomato tasting will be offered at 10% off that evening, so stock up on your favorites to carry you through tomato season at home.

September 4 is the Napa Valley Tomato Festival at Connolly Ranch, an all-ages fundraising event with live music, silent auction, tomato-themed games, tomato-themed demonstrations, tomatoes for sale, and contests for best salsa, best gazpacho, and most unique tomato, among others.  If growing and cooking the fruit aren't your forte, try your hand at tomato croquet or tomato juggling, or just gorging on them at the event.  Proceeds benefit the Napa Valley Farm Bureau and Connolly Ranch, a non-profit organization working to connect children with nature through farm-based environmental education programs.

Santa Rosa visitors can slake their tomato thirst at Kendall Jackson's 14th annual Heirloom Tomato Festival on September 11, from 11am to 4pm, benefiting the School Garden Network of Sonoma County.  Over 170 different types of tomato from the winery's gardens will be on hand to delight and amaze, along with a battery of professional chefs and food purveyors to transform the rainbow of tomatoes into other fun shapes and flavors, and teach attendees to do the same.  KJ wines will be flowing, and the sun will almost certainly be shining.  Tickets are only available in advance, so order them now to secure your spot.  

As part of the three-day Tomatoville celebration in early September, Bardessono hosts its second annual Heirloom Bloody Mary Brunch on September 12, 2010, from 11am to 2:30pm.  In addition to an adorable flight of miniature bloody marys, you can also enjoy the restaurant's evil genius in the form of a heritage bacon sampler platter--combining an array of artisanal pork bliss from premiere producers like Fatted Calf, Boccalone, Vande Rose Farm's, and Nueske's, among others.  $40 gets you a trio of bloody marys, the bacon sampler, and your choice of Chef Sean O'Toole's breakfast items.

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