Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tomato Tasting

Jaime felt well enough today to go to a little festival in Fairmont today. A tomato-tasting festival.

You heard right. Tomato tasting. And it was a taste treat.

I saw a little blurb in the local paper, so Jaime looked up the directions. The festival was to be held at High Gate, the former home of a coal baron in Fairmont that echoed the timbered look of old English architecture. The festival was held on the grounds of the carriage house of the original estate, and the tasting itself was inside the carriage house.



The grounds are beautiful. Fairmont has a strong Italian heritage and stellar stonework is evident throughout the city. At High Gate, stone walls, arches, steps and walls abounded. James and Michaela had a great time climbing up and over the walls as we explored the various vendors.


We found a soap maker who had lovely rose petal soap and Shea butter hand lotion as well as handmade birdhouses.



Worms!

We talked to people promoting worm farms, looked at the screen house full of Monarch butterflies, bought lemon thyme plants.


Then we found the tasting. Oh. My. There were tomatoes of all sizes and varieties. Most were the heirloom varieties. I saw many of the kinds I grew this year--Cherokee Beefsteak, Strawberry Beefsteak, German Pink, Amish Paste, Roma, Yellow Pear, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Hillbilly. Our favorite was one grown by my friend and Master Gardener June Riffle called Zebra, I think. It was a yellow and green-striped tomato and was tangy and full of flavor. On the list for next year's greenhouse.

June's Zebra Tomato won third place! We think it should have been first.

Seeing June and her daughters was a surprise pleasure. They were selling breads and jams and other items. June is a storyteller, part of the duo called Mountain Echoes. She's also a great gardener and beekeeper.


Lasagna class was getting to start, but we had to leave.

We didn't stay for the many workshops and lectures scheduled for the day.

I left thinking that many other small towns could offer a similar festival. It was laid-back, interesting and unusual, and made me want to try a few new varieties next year. The classes were interesting too--we wanted to stay for the one on tomato diseases and treatments, but it was time to go home to make Aaron's dinner. Which was Eggplant Parmesan, good homemade bread from the festival and a salad featuring Jaime's Strawberry Beefsteak and German Pink tomatoes.

12 comments:

Rowan said...

Sounds like my kind of day out. I'm so glad that Jaime is feeling well enough to venture out.

Granny Sue said...

It was nice, Rowan. We only stayed about an hour, just long enough to look at the booths and taste the tomatoes. She wanted to go but was ready to leave! Today she's on her own so we'll see how she does. She's a trouper.

First50 said...

You can't say enough good things about a great tomato. Yesterday I was eating my home grown tomatoes for lunch with cold Mac and Cheese from a box. Now, that's going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Granny Sue said...

Mac and Cheese in any form is good with me! I am an addict-so much so that I rarely make it, because I wil eat too much :) But in a restaurant, I will order it instead of pricey entrees.

Twisted Fencepost said...

That place looks beautiful. I can only imagine how it looked in person.
Sorry you couldn't stay for the rest but there's always next year.

Granny Sue said...

That's what I'm thinking, Becky. And Jaime could probably have won a prize with her tomatoes from the plants I gave her. Mine didn't do as well as hers! They were huge and perfect, no cracks or blemishes. She said she put an egg at the bottom of the hole when she planted them. Hmmm....

TheresaandJay said...

Hmmm indeed, I wonder what the egg provided to the plant - calcium? It does look like a cool place to go and a tomato tasting sounds like just the thing for an August day. Glad Jaime is feeling better. love you.

Granny Sue said...

That's what Jaime said, Theresa--calcium. Which makes sense for the shell but she used the whole egg. Whatever, her tomatoes were lovely. She also has an automatic sprinkler that is a motion detector and comes on whenever it senses movement. Great deer deterrent. And water. So maybe the regular watering is also responsible for the lovely tomatoes. That and Jaime's green thumb.

Mountainword said...

First I agree with First50. There is nothing better on a cool fall day than tomatoes sliced up in macaroni & cheese. I like the baked kind, but instant would work.

And I am a little envious of your going to High Gate. Did you know it was once a funeral home? It's very old and spooky, too - although I don't know of any ghost stories attached to it. I'm sure there is one. It is one of those places that simply NEEDS a ghost.

I'm putting this festival on the list for next year. And if you're feeling up to it, I'll see you there!

Granny Sue said...

Actually, Jason, High Gate itself is still a funeral home. The event was held in the carriage house and on the grounds around the carriage house, which belongs to the city. When the funeral home ever decides to shut down, the city wants to buy the place, I heard. It would be a great museum, historical center, etc. As for ghosts--you know it has to have them. It looks like the owners of the funeral home live there too. They might have some tales to tell, if only they would.

Mountainword said...

I think I remember a few years ago - 2003? 2006? when they cleaned out that funeral home. I guess new ownership, or maybe just spring cleaning, and they found several unclaimed urns of ashes, body parts in jars, that sort of thing. It would definitely give me the shivers to live there, I know that.

Jaime said...

That was a really neat experience. And now that I know it exists because of you - I will make sure I go next year.

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