Where are the Tomatoes?

The beautiful fresco of the Military Academy of Modena from the gorgeous piazza Roma

The beautiful fresco of the Military Academy of Modena from the gorgeous piazza Roma

Modena city center with it historic beautifu Duke's residence that is now a military academy.

Modena city center with it historic beautifu Duke's residence that is now a military academy.

Modena.... It was the first place I visited, outside the city of Reggio Emilia. It was part of a different trip but Sunday and lack of knowledge of how things 'work' here, meant that on my way to Spilamberto, I was stranded in Modena for a couple of hours. Naturally, I wandered. Actually, I wasn't alone. My housemate and I made the journey and that is another important connection.

the common threads that captures me at my best - Connection and Wonder.

As it happened, we did not get to see much of Modena as the Mayor of Spilamberto kindly picked us up since we had missed the only bus of the day. That was a magical day spent with balsamic vinegar makers and learning all about that process! The story of the Balsamic Vinegar will be published in the next issue of NOURISHED. And, in another post, I want to tell you why the experience was special. 

Today, I wanted to leave you with my short impressions of Modena, fleeting as they were, are enough to make me note a second visit soon! More photos to come from there. And, also talk about tomatoes.

ripe, juicy, seasonal tomato
sliced juicy tomatoes ripened in season

It is really hard to not talk about tomatoes when in Italy. I thought I had discovered a mother lode in the Brooklyn farmer's market. This year, there was a variety of heirloom tomatoes that were actually affordable (Whole Foods take note!) and, tasted, OMG! Awesome!! I mean, I could not keep my hands off them.

When I came here, I picked up a ripe tomato from the market, sliced into it and ate it with a little olive oil. Then, I died and went to heaven. Or maybe hell, because honestly, after that bite, try as I might, i simply cannot help turn my back on the Brooklyn market tomatoes. I am sorry, dear, Sunday Park Slope market, I love you but really, you are not Italy. I am hurting inside with the agony of having to say this but I cannot hide from the truth. It is real and it is here. But, I love you and I will be back. Just don't call them 'heirloom' please. It makes me want to cry....

So, while I am here, I am pledging to eat a lot of tomatoes and be so full of it that when I am back, I won't miss them at all. I think it's an excellent plan. If that sounds a touch schizophrenic from the previous paragraph, it is only natural. I am in the adjusting process... I think! ?!

See you in a few days when I have recovered from this blow. Maybe I'll go to Modena again...!


Hot and Cold Tomato + Chicken Salad

{with Feta + Cauliflower}

This is a salad for one! Scale as needed for more people. It is fantastic for brunch or family meals! The trick in this dish is salting the tomatoes and letting the juices run. When you place the chicken on these juices, they make for a delicious natural vinaigrette co-mingling with the olive oil and spices from the hot portion of the salad!

2 plump, ripe tomatoes

crumbles of feta

1/3 cup shredded roasted chicken

1 shallot, julienned or minced

1/2 tsp harissa

1/4 cup cauliflower flowerlets

sea salt and pepper as needed

olive oil to drizzle and dress

  1. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices. Arrange on a plate and sprinkle sea salt on them. Let them sit for a bit while you get the rest of the dish ready.
  2. In a pan, heat a little oil and saute the onions until soft.
  3. Add harissa, salt and pepper and cook till fragrant.
  4. Add the cauliflower and shredded chicken and toss and steam till the cauliflower is soft yet crunchy.
  5. Pile the chicken onto the side of the sliced tomatoes.
  6. Served with crumbles of feta cheese sprinkled on top.