Spring is finally here! After a long, cold winter that nearly crushed my spirit, the weather is finally warm and the sun is shining brightly. As I navigated through a crowded grocery store this weekend, I was feeling uplifted by the weather, there was a new lightness in my step. Well, I almost did a happy dance right there in the store when I saw a beautiful display of heirloom tomatoes.
I never had an heirloom tomato before moving to New York. Growing up, I was the only member of my family that loved fruits and vegetables (my brother could live off of french fries, macaroni & cheese, red vines and fruit roll ups). So as irony would have it, most of my exploration into new produce occurred after I left California.
When I first saw heirloom tomatoes with their funny shapes and colors and a hefty price tag, I couldn't imagine what could be so special - I mean they are still tomatoes after all. But last year during a trip to San Francisco, I ordered a decadent salad with heirloom tomatoes, basil, goat cheese and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. I had no idea that the flavor of a tomato could be elevated to such great heights. Suddenly I found myself spending money on heirloom tomatoes instead of going out to eat. The flavors are amazing and they can be so visually arresting (we eat with all of our senses after all).
I have since introduced this delicacy to my family during my trips back to California. Skip your Starbucks coffee one day and spend that money on a perfect heirloom tomato - you won't regret it. A plate of tomatoes with fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and a dash of salt is naturally gluten free and a great way to celebrate a changing of the seasons.