best dish in town

If I had to subsist on one food in the world, tomatoes might be the call… For my wedding, we served 300 pounds of them, and they are at the tippy-top of my favorite “describe your last supper menu” game…

I have also learned that there are a lot of other people who feel similar to me; mainly chefs, and they are the most tight-lipped about their sources.  They’ll happily share a good source, but NEVER the real source.  It reminds me a lot of the elderly ladies in my grandmother’s New Orleans apartment building— they all lived for lump crabmeat, and would rather throw their husband under a bus than reveal their source with each other.  It is important to note that “each other” weren’t just mere neighbors, but sister-in-laws and life long friends… It was not a topic for delicate discussion or inquiry– and would always result with disapproving big eyes and arched eyebrows.

Anyhow, there is one dish that KILLS me in the valley, and it is the TOMATO BURRATA at Bardessono, created by Sean O’Toole… I am so ridiculous about it, that I have been known to eat it for BOTH lunch + dinner often, and worse– my husband is as fierce about it as me!!!!!!  It is a problem… luckily, the window is short. This dish is not only a mind blower, but elegant and a symphony of tastes and textures, made with LOVING HANDS.  This is a dish that Michael Bauer + Michael Murphy need to try FAST!

As with most talented people I covet, I stalked Sean these past 2 years– waited patiently til September to write about his crazy-good tomato salad, and would you believe… Sean gave me both the recipe + his tomato source!!!!!

Let’s drill down a little here, because we all know a recipe is only as good as the precise ingredients, so, below is a little  Q + A with Sean about it:

AT: let’s discuss the burata– can you share source?
SO’T: El Gioia brand carried by Cowgirl Creamery at Ferry Plaza, cheese shop at Oxbow, and Sunshine Market in St. Helena.
AT:  the salt you use?
SO’T:  Fleur de sel from, Whole Foods or any specialty food store
AT:  the vinegar?
SO’T:  balsamic vinegar from Modena, not aged, brand doesn’t matter it is all about the tomatoes
AT:   what kind of tomatoes (different size)?
SO’T:  any tomatoes just ripe and always stored at room temperature
AT:   if you weren’t using Lucy’s garden where would you get your tomatoes????
SO’T:  The Peach Farm in Winter’s or Adastra Winery in Carneros
AT: the whole thing…
SO’T:  lots of love and you have to want it to be great

TOMATO SALAD by Chef Sean O’Toole
burrata cheese, lucy’s garden basil, sparrow lane balsamic vinegar

1 pound heirloom tomatoes
2 each scallions
8 ounces burrata cheese
2 sprigs Thai basil
2 slices country bread
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
To taste balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper

Method of preparation: Slice tomatoes into random shapes, place flat on a plate. Reserve the tomato trimmings. Trim the scallions and slice fine. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on tomatoes, season with sliced scallions, salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes marinade at room temperature. Pick the leaves from the basil sprigs and tear into small pieces, reserve the stems. To make tomato vinaigrette; place tomato trimmings, tomato paste, 1 basil stem in a blender. Add a small amount of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and water if necessary, season with salt and pepper. Cut the country bread into batons. Heat 2 ounces of olive oil in a sauté pan and toast the batons to make croutons, season with salt.

To plate: Split the burrata cheese between four plates and arrange the marinated
tomatoes around. Drizzle the tomato vinaigrette around. Sprinkle the salad with the torn basil leaves and crouton batons. Season the burrata cheese with salt, fresh cracked pepper and serve.

serves 4

{photo credits: nicole mcintosh bruce + bardessono}

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One Response to best dish in town

  1. Sonja Hernandez says:

    Thank you Alexis for your awesome Site and all the good tips and info.
    Love going to the Napa Valley and always checking out your recommendations.
    Keep stalking the chefs. I love the recipe and looking forward to more.

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