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I don’t think there is a more delicious and thoughtful gift than a homegrown tomato. We all know just how hard it can be to grow them on this side of the mountains. As a matter of fact, my three tomatoes from the three plants on the patio with direct western sun exposure are still not ripe, while my wife’s 3500 plants at our farm in Prosser are busy delivering 80 pounds of red, green, yellow and purple beauties…per plant! And organic! So…when my friends showed up for dinner the other night with some of their own Seattle tomatoes to share, I knew what a special treat that was.

We made a quick “charred” tomato sauce simply by cutting them in half, brushing them with a touch of olive oil and putting them directly over a smoking hot charcoal fire. It’s really hard not to mess with them but for the best results just leave them searing for three to five minutes. In a pan on your stove, add a glug more olive oil…sauté a couple of thinly sliced cloves of garlic ‘til translucent, remove from heat and pour into a bowl large enough to hold pasta for four. Add coarse-chopped flat leaf parsley, a good amount of fresh basil, a nice pinch of dried red chili flakes, an ounce of grappa and some sea salt. Your tomatoes should have some fire roasted edges but still be “half” cooked. Remove from the grill, trying to retain as much of their burnt edges as possible. Course chop the tomatoes and add to the pasta bowl. Now, just add your cooked pasta noodles and toss.

This is the perfect way to enjoy the fresh taste of the garden without cooking a sauce down for hours--use canned tomatoes if you want that kind of sauce. We topped off our pasta with fennel pork sausages and a healthy dose of grated Reggiano Parmesan.

Tasty, tasty, tasty!
We have a fun night coming up at Cuoco Trattoria on September 22nd, where you can try this dish and several others paired with G D Vajra wines from Piedmonte Italy.  This is a fun “happy hour” format rather than a sit down dinner (but don’t worry, there will still be substantially-filling tastes).  We will stroll about on the patio and in the pasta kitchen while Francesca Vajra leads us through a sampling of her latest vintages along with our pal Mike Teer from Pike and Western Wine Shop.
Feeling more of a PNW pinot noir vibe?  The Carlile Room, not to be outdone, will also be hosting a terrific winery Domaine Roy & Fils from the Willamette Valley for dinner on the same evening. These wines have a lineage dating back to the beginning of the Oregon wine industry and I can’t wait to taste the pairings chef Dezi is going to come up with. I have been “laying down” more and more Oregon Pinots right next to my favorite Burgundies…this is certainly a winery and region worth learning more about—and we hope to see you at either of these events!
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