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A Tale of the Tomato

 Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes. 

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A good part of my Gourmet year and therefore my Gourmet life consists of the cultivation, care and consumption of many different varieties of tomatoes.  Early February, when the world outside is still cold and barren, I start little bitty tomato seeds in little plastic pots set in all of my south facing windows.  By March, they have transformed into tiny little seedlings that seem like it would be a miracle to produce the bounty in this picture. If it is warm enough at the end of May, the process starts to gradually transition the “teenage” plants outside for growing in the big outdoors. If our summer in Seattle is a hot one like it was this year, I will be rewarded with red, yellow and orange tomatoes by the beginning of August. And then the fun begins. This year in particular was a banner year as I was able to collect at least a colander full of beautiful heirloom tomatoes almost each day in August. Those pictured  starting from the big red tomato in the center and moving left; “Mortgage Lifter” which legend claims a farmer was able to pay off his mortgage with, “Sweet Million”, a cherry tomato with incredible fresh taste and finally “Hillbilly” the incredibly tasty orange heirloom that my favorite gourmet buddy has renamed “Hippy Dippy” and it shall forever be so.

As tomato season is winding to an end, I start thinking about how to get my fresh tomato fix. One of my favorite tomato vessels is of course, PIZZA. Consequently, one of the reasons that I am so in love with Garlic Jim’s pizza is the tomato sauce that is the base of so many wonderful toppings. I had a chance to ask Dwayne Northrop (being a number one fan has its perks), the founder and CEO of Garlic Jim’s, why Garlic Jim’s sauce is soooo much better than the competitors. Here is his reply:

“Well Olive, Garlic Jim’s uses what is called Fresh Packed Sauce which means it was not made from paste. You see, every Fall in Northern California, all of the tomatoes are harvested in a short period of time and the farmers need to get them from the vine to be processed in only a few hours. So…. 95% of the tomatoes are dehydrated down to paste. That means they evaporate out a lot of the water.  Then when someone like Domino’s needs sauce, they get out the paste, add a bunch of water and some spices and put the sauce in a can. Most grocery spaghetti sauce is made from paste.”

“But Garlic Jim’s sauce, on the other hand, was canned within HOURS of the tomatoes being picked. Our sauce was never evaporated down to the level of paste and water was NEVER added. All of the liquid in our sauce is from the fresh tomatoes itself!”

Garlic Jim’s sauce looked red like a tomato and smelled fresh like it was just picked.

Then Mr. Northrop challenged me to purchase can of pizza sauce from a big warehouse store (which is the same sauce that most pizza restaurants use) and meet him at my local Garlic Jim’s for a test. We opened the two sauces and sure enough the Garlic Jim’s sauce looked red like a tomato and smelled fresh like a just picked tomato (and believe me, I know that smell). The other sauce….. well let’s just say it didn’t.

Since I was already standing in a Garlic Jim’s pizza store, I asked if I could possibly make myself a little pizza (you know, for further tomato research…)  Mr. Northrop, being the super nice CEO that he is, even let me make the pizza myself so that I could really see for myself the awesomeness of this sauce.

Garlic Jim's Famous This is what I call fresh tomato on a crust.  I’m not even sure if I need cheese!

When I think of the long dark months to come with nothing but withering vines in my yard, my thoughts turn to joy and happiness at the thought of my next Garlic Jim’s Famous Gourmet pizza with its fresh packed goodness.

Ciao for now!

Olive

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