Tomato season has begun. And last Saturday the Bayou City Farmer's Market celebrated the lipstick-red, round bottom fruits with their Fifth Annual Tomato Fest. The market felt more like a block party that day, with the usual vendors selling everything from eggs to homemade jam, with the added excitement of competition.
Festivities included a People's Choice award for Best Tomato, in which competing tomato vendors submitted samples for a blind tasting. Hanka Farms, whose tomatoes had not yet ripened past green, was the dark horse that nabbed first place. Fir Forest Harvest took second place and Gundermann's Peachland Farms was third.
And because it's not a party without free food, three chefs each prepared a dish highlighting the tomato. John Sheely of Mockingbird Bistro came with tangy tomato gazpacho and frittata, Hugo Ortega of Hugo's Restaurant and Backstreet Cafe had a kicky tomato cocktail and Diane Gossen from Les Dames D'Escoffier and Louisiana Foods served a smooth seafood campechana.
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While there won't be top chefs around on most Saturdays to hand you second portions, there will still be juicy tomatoes. Traditional, organic and sustainable methods of growing are all represented at the farmer's market at different price points. Even backyard gardeners have their own corner. In one booth, Bob Randall, former executive director of Urban Harvest, acts as Tomato Doctor for ailing plants.
But be warned -- come to the market by 9 a.m. for the best selection.
The Bayou City Farmers Market is located in the parking lot behind 3000 Richmond, just off Eastside.