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21 July 2012

Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Mouans Sartoux, France


I don't know how to describe these tomatoes to you without getting overly-excited.  They are the tastiest and most delicious tomato dish I have ever tasted in my life.   I am not saying that because I was the one who cooked it.  It's because it really is.  I can't even continue writing this without thinking of having them again.
  

What inspired these flavors was a bottle of sun-dried tomatoes from the small island of Vulcano, in Isole Eiolie (Aeolian Islands). The bottle was finishing and I was already panicking.   It's very difficult to find it, quite impossible even.  That's when the idea of slow-roasting the tomatoes using capers and oregano came out.  I was hoping to recreate the flavors without having to take a plane to Sicily, a bus and a ferry to the island to have some more. 



After waiting for 2-1/2 hours, I was rewarded with these tomatoes.  They're not really as strong as the sun-dried tomatoes but the flavors were there, really there!  And I would like to push you to make them if you like tomatoes.   I used them as a topping for the bruschette and salad.  When I will make them again, I will use them with the pasta.  The possibilities are endless. 



I am in my friend's garden in an ancient village in Cote d'Azur, reclined under the shade of an apricot tree, listening to my 2-year old daughter's ramblings about the leaves and the dried tree sap of the tree.  I'm waiting for my turn to bake the tomatoes to accompany our grilled meat for dinner.  I can hear my friend's noises in the kitchen from her 2nd-floor window while she's preparing the clafoutis.  I can already imagine a sumptuous dinner. 


I had been spending my days visiting some old villages, a food market and trying the local food.  It had been marvelous immersing myself to the French life in this part of the country.  My non-existent French, a bit of Italian and English limit me to interact with the people but as I watch and listen to my friend converse with them in their language, I can see how friendly and warm the people are. 


The first place we went to when I arrived was a town market of Mouans Sartoux.  There was a mixture of sorts, clothes, things for the house, plants, flowers and food.  Food markets are my favorite destinations in places I visit and to be in one in a small town in France makes my trip much more special.   Give me just a few stalls of them and I will be happier than a kid with a lollipop.   At the market, I got some saucissons de provence with figs, roquefort, pepper, olives and the classic.   I am bursting with excitement! 


Here are some pictures of the town of Speracedes and and the market of Mouans Sartoux.
They are both ancient little villages of the region of Alpes-Maritimes.  

I hope you are all having a good weekend!



Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients:
  • 500 g. datterini tomatoes, halved (or any sweet tomatoes you can find)
  • 1 tablespoon brown cane sugar
  • 3/4 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon capers (preserved in vinegar but if you cannot find any, you can also use the ones preserved in salt)
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Directions:
  1. Soak the capers in water for about 10 minutes.  Drain then squeeze the capers lightly to send away excess liquid.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, salt & oregano. 
  3. Pour this mixture on the halved tomatoes and mix with your hands.  Add the capers and extra virgin olive oil.  Mix everything using your hands.
  4. Transfer to a baking pan.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 130 degrees Celsius for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. If you see that the tomatoes are drying up, pull the pan out of the oven and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Cook again.