Summer is upon us and that means heat, linen, and sunburn. But June also marks the beginning of the local tomato season. No matter how you pronounce it, tomatoes are a summer food staple whether they are sliced, diced, or rested gently atop a fat burger. This week, they were just beginning to harvest tomatoes out on Wadmalaw and Johns Islands, which means the freshest local tomatoes will be showing up on local menus this week.
Husk Restaurant calls on Edisto's Geechie Boy Market for their heirloom tomatoes. Try them with Texas olive oil and smoked salt as a side, or as a starter with the fried green tomatoes with heirloom white peaches and sweetgrass chevre goat cheese. But if a salad is more your style, order the tomato and plum salad with spring lettuces, Peeler's milk ricotta, and strawberry-beet vinaigrette.
The Fat Hen has its own take on the tomato salad with a roasted tomato, corn, and boiled peanut composition ($7). The tomato, roasted with parsley, basil, and chives, is complemented by a mixture of grilled corn with Hellman's mayo and anchovies, and peanuts boiled in salt and bacon. Mmmm ... bacon.
If you prefer to enjoy tomatoes in a distinctly Andalusian style, try the Tattooed Moose's gazpacho. Puréed tomatoes are accompanied by roasted red peppers, homemade crème fraiche, and pico de gallo. The simple Spanish tradition stands alone as a cool refreshing snack in either a cup or bowl.
Wadmalaw Island's Thackeray Farms, a tomato supplier to nearly 50 local restaurants, is responsible for many of the veggies that adorn the pizzas at EVO in Park Circle. You'll find eggplant, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and onions in its ever-changing menu of wood fired pizzas. But it's Thackeray Farms' heirloom and sungold tomatoes that provide the red glue that keeps the Neapolitan pizzas together (12" pizzas under $15).
And what would any self-respecting account of food be without some mention of pie. Dixie Supply Bakery and Café has a rich offering of fresh tomatoes layered with basil, cheese, and spring onions with a side of sweet potato cornbread. The $6 tomato pie will leave you no room for dessert.
Of course, the best way to enjoy a tomato is to stop by the farmers market on Saturday morning and buy yourself a basket that you can take home, slice up, and put between two slices of white bread slathered in mayo and sprinkled with salt and pepper. It's a pure taste of Southern summer.