To highlight this year’s fresh tomatoes on your menu, you won’t have to stage anything as dramatic as La Tomatina, the annual tomato-throwing festival held on the last Wednesday in August in Valencia, Spain. Here are some menu promotions that create a festival atmosphere all their own.
Chef José Andrés celebrated La Tomatina at all three Jaleo locations (Bethesda, MD; Washington, DC; and Arlington, VA) from Aug. 6–12. Tomato-inspired creations with a taste of Spain include the “1959” cocktail, which combines tomato water, fresh basil and gin. It commemorates the year La Tomatina made its debut. Menu items include fried green tomatoes with Valdeón cheese, heirloom tomatoes with Spanish anchovies, and watermelon and tomato “caviar” skewers.
On Aug. 29, A.O.C. Restaurant and Wine Bar in Los Angeles hosts La Tomatina, a tomato-centric dinner where guests can indulge in the flavor and versatility of fresh tomatoes. Chef Suzanne Goin and business partner/sommelier Caroline Style present a seasonal tomato menu with wine pairings available. On the menu: Yellow tomato gazpacho; wild striped bass from the wood oven with tomato rice, roasted cherry tomatoes and green olives; and candied tomatoes with vanilla ice cream.
Chicago restaurant promotions celebrating tomatoes include Osteria Via Stato’s Heirloom Tomato Dinner—a one-night, four-course event on Aug. 28. It’s dedicated to dishes that highlight heirloom tomatoes. At $68 per person with wine pairings, the menu includes heirloom tomato panzanella, hand-rolled cavatelli with roasted tomatoes and sausage, fennel-crusted tuna with tomatoes and herbs, and for dessert, an heirloom tomato tart with vanilla gelato.
Tomato granita with heirloom tomato carpaccio and tomato caramel with fresh basil are among the menu items offered this month as tomato season specials at Carlucci in Downers Grove, IL.
Every Monday in August, Chicago’s Quay Restaurant and Bar offers a Tomato Month celebration, featuring tomato dish ingredients from chef Dan Marquis’ Mill Road Farms. Produce includes purple basil, red komatsuna greens, parsley and other microgreens. The Heirloom Tomato Pizza ($5), for example, features fromage blanc, purple basil, smoked mozzarella and truffle oil. Weekly tomato specials include pan- seared branzino ($24) with heirloom tomatoes, red komatsuna greens, Chinese eggplant, shaved fennel, Thai basil and dashi broth.
If you’re looking for more tomato recipe ideas, consider this trio:
Kumamato oysters with California Avocado and bloody mary sorbet, from Chef Craig Strong of Studio at Montage in Laguna Beach, CA
Lamb shawarma with tomato jam, from Chef Liam Spence of Lola in Seattle
Fresh avocado and fried green tomato sandwich, from Chef Joshua Linton of Joshua Tree Spice Studio in Chicago