Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Heirloom Tomato Celebration | Bistro 5

All hail the magnificent heirloom tomato. I love that chefs around the city not only look to embrace the summer fruit in its prime, but become giddy at the prospect of cooking with it. They patiently wait for the high season, eager to get their hands on fresh, ripe, perfectly imperfect, locally grown heirloom varietals. In its peak the tomato is incomparable to those mealy, off season, uniformly round and shaped for the consumer brands. The in-season tomato is so beloved, so cherished. 


Chef Vittorio Ettore is one enthusiast, he practically worships them, and in their honor prepares a five course tasting menu annually at his West Medford restaurant, Bistro 5. The excitement is palpable and the anticipation of this years menu builds as I listen to the chef speak about his inspirations while munching on soft, herb studded foccacia bread with chickpea puree over fruity green hued olive oil. What follows, is a parade of courses that celebrate the late summer fruit in a sophisticated meets ethereal fashion. 
For our first course of Cherokee Tomato Gazpacho, a gorgeous pearly white scallop ceviche is punctuated with a beautiful Cherokee tomato broth and a qunielle of refreshing cucumber-jalapeno sorbet, garnished with a leaf of lemon basil.

Then, the chef swirls in an enchanting gazpacho cloud, he's creating a masterpiece, the foam itself is velvety and frothy while adding remarkable depth and flavor. The dish strikes a high note, it is truly outstanding. 

The wine paired with this course is a 2011 Cantina Santa Maria La Palma, Aragosta, Vermentino di Sardegna. I think this is my first time trying the Vermentino white grape varietal and I adore it (along with that lobster on the bottle!) The wine is fresh and lively with notes of ripe apple, it finishes dry and is a particularly divine match with the scallops.
A whimsical presentation, the Potted Tomato Panzenella is thoughtfully conceived and brilliantly executed, inspired by the scent of a tomato garden with actual tomato plant leaves fancied as a garnish. Pineapple tomato and crusty bread mingle in a mini terra cotta pot with black olive "soil", topped with a mozzarella balloon that has been fused with a tomato mousse and then dusted in panko breadcrumbs. 
Another lovely bottle of wine accompanies, 2011 Domaine de Saint Pierre, Sancerre, Liore. It's high in acidity and tasting of green melon and citrus with a distinct chalky finish. 

Course number three is a dynamic Lemon Boy Tomato Risotto laced with soft tangy goat cheese and crispy prosciutto, paired with a 2011 Domaine de la Solitude, Rosé, Côtes du Rhône. I am fond of both the Risotto and the Rose, in this instance they are a perfect match. This dinner is turning out to impress far beyond my expectations and making that crowded bus ride all the way out to quiet West Medford square and later my cab ride home, well worth it. 

The fourth course presents a Rohan Duck, expertly seared and served with sweet and sour butternut squash, thai basil and pickled ginger alongside a head turning Smoked Speckled Roman Tomato Creme Brulee

A savory, smokey creme brulee? For the entree course? Yes and yes, for the win. The wine continues to impress, we've moved to a red, a 2007 Vingneti Zabù, Il Passo, Sicilia which is a Nero d'Avola and merlot blend with ripe blackberry and cherry, leading to a long, velvety finish. It is fantastic with the meat.

Chef labels the dessert course Tomatina, it's equal parts creamy Organic Peach Tomato Mousse and a fanfare of a presentation inspired by the famous tomato fight in Spain. It's a splattering of vanilla creme anglaise and sweet pistachio pesto with a neat little bowl of basil yogurt gelato on the side. The dessert wine is a sweet, slightly effervescent, 2011 Zagara, Moscato d'Asti, Barolo

This heirloom tomato tasting menu is not tomato as you might expect it; Chef Ettore elevates classic Italian dishes with an innovative use of ingredients and playfully inspired twists which translate real life moments and experiences into the plate. Additionally, the wines are interesting and expertly paired. 

Bistro 5 will be offering the tasting menu, which changes daily based on the heirloom varietals availability, from September 5th   - 29th. {3 courses for $45/wine pairing $20 or 5 courses for $65/wine pairing $25} I attended this preview tasting as media and my dinner was complimentary. 

15 comments:

  1. The plating of this meal is amazing, especially the Potted Tomato Panzenella and the desserts. Definitely not tomato heavy meal - Not being a tomato fan, this tasting menu looks like something even I could totally enjoy.

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  2. holy delicious i want to go to this! the potted "plant" is such a cool presentation idea.

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  3. What a wonderful way to learn about different types of heirloom tomatoes. I need to check this out before the season is over!

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  4. I live for fresh tomatoes in the summertime. This looks like a fantastic meal!

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  5. "for the win" :)

    my mouth is watering! lets go to west medford!

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  6. I remember this dinner from last time and wish I could have made it this year. The dishes look even more creative and interesting!

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  8. I love the smell of a tomato right off the vine! Looks like a lovely dinner.

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  9. ugh, delicious - and the presentation...perfect.

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  10. So beautiful! I absolutely love heirloom tomatoes.

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  11. Amazing how many types of tomatoes there are! I especially love the sound of that lemon risotto!

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  12. well it's only a couple of miles from my new place, so i think i need to get there!! loving the sounds of the risotto and pretty much everything else :)

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  13. Such a cool event! I love me some good summer tomatoes

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  14. This meal looks incredible! I am not normally a fan of hanging in Medford, but I'd make an exception for this. Thanks for sharing.

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