Monday, August 27, 2012

back from the benefit

Tomatoes were piled high at every farm stand between Riverhead and East Hampton this weekend. How many could I carry? How many could I fit in the car was the question. I was on the East End of Long Island to cater a benefit for Wellness in the Schools and my car was already stuffed with serving platters, ice buckets, cocktail napkins, everything we would need to host 200 guests playing tennis matches for a worthy charity on this magnificent summer weekend.

I fit quite a few tomatoes into the car as it turns out, after I wrangled a tiny bit more breathing room in the trunk on the trip home. Buying "seconds" in bulk is hard to resist. I can't help envisioning some major canning or freezing process that will take place when I get them home. By the time I unpacked everything last night, my tomatoes had sustained enough bruises to call an ambulance. Slow roasting seemed like the way to go.

-slow roasted tomatoes-
They are in the oven right now and my whole house smells like a pizzeria. The oven is set at 250 degrees. The tomatoes, cut in half, are dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme, and a few whole garlic cloves thrown in. I am going to leave them in the oven until the tomatoes shrink a bit and the flavors concentrate, for maybe three or four hours, which will leave them still a bit fleshy, but with a concentrated tomato flavor.  Many recipes call for a six hour roasting, to really collapse the tomato, but that is not my plan today. I will puree the tomatoes when when they come out of the oven to make a richly flavored tomato sauce.

The Benefit was so much fun! Teams of tennis pros paired up with skilled tennis players to compete in doubles matches on the beautiful courts at SPORTIME Amagansett.  The games were serious, but good natured and everyone worked up an appetite.
Plenty of snacks were on hand to keep hungry players focused and energized. Hampton Chutney treated us to guacamole and tortilla chips, to serve alongside my hummas and pita chips.

Turf Lobster Rolls left their primo selling spot on the uber popular Montauk surfing beach, Ditch Plains, to knock us out with over-stuffed lobster rolls. Who could stop to take a picture when you are so busy eating? Take my word for it, they were gorgeous and disappeared in an instant.

People's Pops kept everyone cool with ice cones shaved from a solid block of ice. The cones got doused with a choice of organic lemon syrup or watermelon syrup. Perfectly cooling, and perfectly cool watching the cones being made!
Satur Farms, located on the North Fork, donated these eye-catching edible flowers I used to garnish the salads. There was some skepticism among the children as to how something so magical looking could actually be eaten. Several asked me to describe the taste. Ahem, yummy!

Montaco wound up the feast by serving up a choice of bean, chicken or fish tacos from their hot pink tricked-out food truck.

W├Âlffer Estate Vineyard, a local winery in Sagaponack NY,  generously donated their Classic White Table Wine. I got to try a glass and it struck me as a perfect pairing for my escarole gratin recipe. I am going to pick up a few bottles to try that.

The day was a huge success. The crew from Sportime were a dream to work with. I highly recommend their facility. The food vendors who joined us were incredibly generous and fun to work with. Everyone made my job so easy I won't even spend one word here complaining about the Hampton's traffic. 

I can't believe it is the end of the summer season. We still have many weeks of great produce coming in from the farms, but it is a given that the days are growing shorter. 

Have a great Labor day weekend!!!





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