Maybe it's because the tomatoes are so darn good this year. Or maybe it's because I am still filling the void from last year's blight. But I can't stop myself from gorging on the things. I eat them everyday, every which way - in salads, as gazpacho, just plain, apple-style. But mostly, I make tomato sandwiches.
I've always had a fondness for tomato sandwiches, ever since I read Harriet the Spy in 3rd grade. Unlike Harriet, who likes hers on white bread, I like mine on toast to give it some crunch. The toast, along with the tomatoes, are the only constant elements in what is an ever-changing sandwich. I vary the fat, the seasonings, the savory extras. As long as the tomato is ripe, it's all just divine. This is what I've been doing this summer:
Pan con Tomate - I wrote about this a few years ago in my Tomato-palooza article for the Times and it's still a favorite: toast bread, rub with a cut garlic half. Drizzle with good olive oil, add tomato slices, more oil (be generous here), and a generous sprinkling of flaky sea salt.
Tomato, Avocado, and Mayo - Toast bread, rub with a cut garlic half. Spread with mayonnaise, layer with avocado and tomato, drizzle with lemon juice and good salt and lots of black pepper. Butter or olive oil can stand in for the mayo.
Tomato, Onion, and Butter - Toast dark, grainy bread, spread liberally with good, flavorful butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer with tomato and thinly sliced sweet onion. Decorate with chives if you have them.
Tomato, Anchovy, Olive Oil - Add anchovy fillets to the Pan con Tomate.
BLT - The classic. I use lots of mayo and if I don't have lettuce, I sub in arugula or basil leaves.
Tomato, Prosciutto and Butter - Toast a baguette. Spread thickly with butter, add tomatoes, salt, pepper, prosciutto and basil.
Etc, etc, etc. I'll post some links (below) for tomato sandwiches around the web, but what are your favorite combinations? I'd love to try them all before the season's out!
With new love, finding romance in any restaurant, from the local diner on up, is easy. Longer-established love, on the other hand, responds to a subtle nudge. In New York, our recommendation for this type of coaxing is Chanterelle. Ask for one of the corner tables nestled near the window; there's ample space between you and your neighbors to foster a sweet sense of isolation, yet you still command a view of the elegant room - glowing with yellow walls and festooned with co-owner Karen Waltuck's effusive flower arrangements. Like the best relationships, after 25 years the cuisine of her husband, co-owner David, remains both faithful and titillating, happily free of any flirtations with culinary frippery. His superb signature dishes, like seafood sausage or poached cod with Manilla clams and pig feet, are neither fussy nor distracting, and the intelligently chosen cheese tray gives you yet another reason to linger well into the night. There may be no better place to continue the conversation you started with your beloved, oh, how many years ago?
People go to chef-driven restaurants for more than a spectacular meal. They go for a glimpse of the genius behind the swinging doors, the personality who turns raw ingredients into edible art-on-the-plate.
Rochelle Brown understands this fascination. As a producer for the Television Food Network, she's worked closely with many of the country's top toques, and has forged relationships that extend beyond the kitchen. In her new book, The Chef, The Story, and The Dish (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2002), she presents a behind-the-scene look at the lives and the cooking of today's culinary superstars. But don't buy this book hoping for any real "dish" Ms. Brown's profiles are solicitous, marked by a sweet, slightly star-struck tone and without much candor. But do buy it for the superb, stylized photographs (by fashion photographer Michel Arnaud) and the delectable-sounding recipes. Make one, and you'll likely end up with a dish far more exciting than any of the stories in print.
With its exclusive location in Belgravia's Halkin hotel, its spare yet elegant setting (burnished gold walls and polished teak inlay), and intelligent service, Nahm seems every bit the Michelin one-star London restaurant that it indeed is - but with a crucial difference. Nahm is the only Thai restaurant in Europe to have earned this distinction. With good reason; there is no restaurant outside of Thailand with the same ambition. Chef David Thompson, an authority on Thai cooking, serves his own unique interpretation that captures the forthright yet graceful flavors of this much abused cuisine (ie. your typical pad Thai). But unlike other upscale Thai restaurants, say, Vong, Thompson's menu is not modernized, fused to any other culinary tradition, or bent to Western palates. He simply takes the most refined recipes the country has to offer (many of them coming directly from the royal palace) and executes them using ingredients from London's mostly organic farmer's markets. The results are superb, at once fiery, intense, subtle and complex. Expect to find combinations that you'd never imagine, such as crisp, deep-fried eggs covered in a fish and shallot sauce, and mussel and pomelo salad with roasted coconut, peanuts, caramel dressing and betel leaves. And expect to be planning your return even before the chile-burn fades from your tongue.
The Halkin Hotel, Halkin Street, London W1X
44 (0) 20 7333 1000