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August 14, 2010

Surfas Restaurant Supply and Tomatomania Cooking Demo

Yes, I went to another Tomatomania tomato tasting. But this one specialized in Cherry tomatoes, my favorite to grow, and was held at a huge restaurant supply store in Culver City called Surfas, which I'd heard of but never explored. It's a cook's mecca!

(the tomatoes I grew and brought to share)

(a tasty Pistachio Macaroon from the cafe at Surfas)

I treated myself to several small delights from the cafe. The macaroon in the photo was maybe an inch and a half. Hardly three small bites. But it was only two bucks, and treats that fit into my budget are rarely found. It was crispy on the outside, chewy in, and did have the lingering aftertaste of the nut. Heaven!

But within an hour I was hungry again, so back I went to window shop the cafe. I thought a Lemon-Lavender Bar was not out of the breakfast realm. I was so hungry I forgot to photograph this one! I was wonderful though--tart and sweet together.

(the Surfas patio on a Saturday morning)

Truly the best part of the day was wandering around the restaurant supply store. I went weak in the knees at all the specialty grocery products, cooking utensils, and books. I had an educational tasting at the cheese counter. Truffle cheese! And there was a serve-yourself bar for olive oil and vinegar samples. I'd love to come back sometime for a sampling of all their gourmet salts.

I took notes and added a ton of cookbooks to my PaperbackSwap wish list: Baking Illustrated, The Home Creamery, Home Cheese Making, Cheese Lovers Companion, Food Lovers Tip Dictionary, Aroma, the Magic of Essential Oils in Food and Fragrance, The Best Make-Ahead Recipe, What's a Cook to Do by James Peterson, The Food Lovers (Tip)tionary, The Olive and the Caper.

Surfas hosts regular classes and events in their beautiful test/demonstration kitchen. Check out their events page here. It's a page I'll be sure to stay on top of for future happenings.

(flyer of the event)

Tomatomania arranged a tasting of twenty-five different cherry varieties, and added a cooking demo by Chef Lucia of Lucia & Company.

The entryway was staged with a swag of former Tomatomania t-shirts that were bright and colorful. The decorations made it feel like a party. I'm going to remember that tip for my friend's baby shower next month, hanging baby clothes on a line around the event.

The tasting featured a blind test of four different varieties, in an effort to upseat the perennial favorite, SunGold. But the seasoned growers were steadfast with their preference.

I did discover a new kind I want to grow next year--Orange Parusch. It was fruity, sweet, and delicious. I'm adding it to the list.

(past Tomatomania t-shirts drape the
entryway to the test kitchen)

The topic of the demo was assigned by Tomatomania as "What to do with Too Many Cherries," and the chef focused on mostly party appetizers. She seems to be a great cook/caterer but not fully comfortable with public speaking. When a pause would come up in the cooking process where she needed to kill time, she kept asking the crowd how they were doing, and had to be prompted to tell a little bit about herself or come up with an anecdote. The recipes were yummy but not terribly complicated--good for the audience to take home as home cooks, but not impressive in their execution as a demo.

And the recipes from the cooking demonstration....Chef Lucia incorporated some interesting cheeses, like the Greek Haloumi cheese in the skewered recipe, which holds up well for grilling. I enjoyed the Warm Cherry Tomato Salad. It's something I wouldn't have tried myself without prompting, and it's great.

You can click on the photos below to enlarge them to a readable size, or to print.

This recent article from the LA Times about the popularity of home canning and food blogs was brought up by an audience member at the demo. It'll lead you to some useful canning blogs.

Do you have any favorite tomato recipes to share? Please post them in a comment on the blog, and I'll pass them along at the next Tomatomania event!

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