Did I sort- of- kind- of -complain that the price of tomatoes at J&W Valley View Farm had increased to $3 a pound? Really? Silly me. OK–here goes the hyperbole and superlatives. The heirloom tomatoes I bought last Sunday at the West End Alexandria Farmers Market were perhaps the best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. That includes the big, beefy “Jersey” tomatoes I grew up eating in Philadelphia. This– this tomato is what I will miss long after summer has relinquished it’s nurturing heat and daylight to the cool, crisp twilights of fall. The taste was simply sublime. The tomatoes were meaty, with minimal pulp. A little sprinkle of kosher salt, and these puppies were summery heaven on a plate. I can’t wait to buy more-and wish every tomato I purchased from J&W was an heirloom. It’s going to be a hard act to follow.
Speaking of tough acts to follow, I stuck with J&W’s white corn upon my last visit to the West End Alexandria market because the prior batch that I bought was sweet, fresh and bursting with milky juice. This week’s corn did not disappoint. Per usual, I stripped the husk and silk off of one ear as soon as I got home, gave the ear a quick wash and took a bite to taste how fresh and sweet it was. It’s hard to wait until I get home sometimes, but I think it would be oh, somewhat off-putting if I did this at the market! Not to waste, I prepare my “test ear “to eat right away-nuked, grilled, sauteed or poached in water with a bit of milk.
Of course, this dish could not be complete without a good goat cheese-chevre. For this, I go to Tom the cheese guy who sells Apple Tree Goat Dairy cheese. The tangy flavor and creamy texture of this cheese is wonderful, and perfect for combining with summer vegetables and herbs.
For this dish, I began by sauteing the kernels from one ear of corn in a non-stick pan with a pat of butter. Once the kernels were cooked through and slightly caramelized, I set them aside in a bowl.
While the corn was sauteing, I prepared each plate by slicing the tomatoes rather thick, about 3/4 inch. I topped each tomato slice with a pinch of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then drizzled with my best olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Next, I heated the same non-stick skillet over medium high heat. I added about 1/3 inch of olive oil. While the oil came up to temperature (the oil is hot enough when it starts to shimmer), I prepared the goat cheese disks by rolling pieces like a hamburger and flattening (your cheese log may be round already and if it is, then skip this step) into a disk 1/2 inch thick. Each disk was lightly coated with flour. Then ,I dipped each piece into a beaten egg, and coated each one thoroughly with bread crumbs seasoned with salt and pepper.
The easiest way to do this traditional breading is to set out three shallow bowls (pie pans work really well) with the flour, beaten egg, and seasoned bread crumbs. Arrange the bowls so that the nearest one to the skillet is the last one used for dipping, which is the bread crumbs.
I transfered the bread crumb-coated chevre to the hot oil and cooked on each side until nicely browned. The chevre disks were then transfered to a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
One piece of fried chevre was placed atop each tomato. I plated the corn on an Asian spoon aside the tomato for presentation and garnished the dish with the chiffonade of basil.
The corn is tossed over the tomato and cheese prior to eating (kind of fun to do!) so you can get a taste of everything in one bite. Like this;