After what feels like an eternity of waiting, tomato season is finally in full swing. Farmers market shelves are now stacked with a rainbow of juicy options--bulbous red Beefsteaks, baskets of tiny, flavor-packed Sun Golds and Purple Princes bursting at the seams.
To celebrate the local tomato harvest, the Treasure Valley Food Coalition's Tomato Independence Project has linked up local farms with local restaurants through the tomato season. Here's a list of the Tomato Tuesday-to-Tuesday menu offerings during September:
Bittercreek Ale House and Peaceful Belly Farms (through Tuesday, Sept. 9): Heirloom tomatoes with warm burrata cheese, sherry vinegar gastrique, pearl onions and fresh herbs; heirloom tomato salad with Armenian cucumber, feta, red sumac and minted yogurt dressing with house-made naan; Rauchbier braised pork belly with heirloom tomato gelee, white hominy cassoulet and seasonal greens.
The Modern Hotel and Next Generation Organics (Tuesday, Sept. 9-Tuesday, Sept. 16): Heirloom tomato tartine with ricotta, marinated tomatoes and basil oil; heirloom tomato salad served with zucchini fritters and olive tapenade; and grilled skirt steak with smoked tomatoes.
Bar Gernika and Global Gardens (Tuesday, Sept. 16-Tuesday, Sept. 23): Heirloom tomatoes on grilled cheese with a blend of jack, cheddar and Swiss on locally baked cheddar scallion bread; Homestead grass-fed burger with a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes; and a bacon, lettuce and heirloom tomato sandwich.
Basque Market and Global Gardens (Tuesday, Sept. 16-Tuesday, Sept. 23). Tapas include: heirloom gazpacho with shrimp and saffron toast; fried manchego with Jamon Serrano and marinated Teardrop tomatoes with chorizero pepper vinaigrette; steamed mussels with spicy tomato vinaigrette and tomato bacon jam-laced crostini; lamb skewers with sweet and sour tomato relish and fried tomatoes with tomato-chorizero aioli.
Also, every Tuesday throughout the tomato season, The Boise Co-op will serve specials on their hot bar made with local tomatoes. And that's only the TIP of the tomato iceberg, so to speak.
"TVFC has encouraged diners to ask their server about tomato offerings beyond those listed," said TVFC's Amy Hutchinson.
Hutchinson added that TIP is hosting a Tomato Tailgate Food Truck Rally at the North End Organic Nursery Tuesday, Sept. 9, from 4-7 p.m. At the event, Three Girls Catering will serve tomatoes from Morning Owl Farm and Archie's Place will serve tomatoes from Earthly Delights Farm. There will also be local beer and live music.
"The idea behind the food truck rally is to celebrate the very small scale, urban growers and mobile providers of tasty tomato fare," said Hutchinson. "The Tomato Tailgate Food Truck Rally compliments the Tomato Tuesday-to-Tuesday menus of six participating 'brick-and-mortar' restaurants who have each partnered with local farms of a slightly larger size than the two featured at the food truck rally to offer tomato specials during August and September."
Also on Tuesday, Sept. 9, The Basque Market is hosting a pintxo and wine tasting event with Raimundo "Rai" Abando of Bodegas Las Orcas. Abando's family has been making wine in the Rioja Alavesa region since 1900, and Abando and his wife Cristina San Pedro started the Bodegas Las Orcas project in the '90s. The tasting will also include Dayne Bower representing Camino Alto Vineyards and Pepe Marco from Vinos Divertidos.
The tasting takes place from 5-7 p.m. and tickets are $25 per person, which includes pintxos and five wine tickets. Additional wine tickets are $2 a pop and reservations and prepayment are required. For more info, call the Basque Market at 208-433-1208.
Moving from wine to outdoor dining, Idaho Rivers United and Reel Foods have teamed up to celebrate the annual salmon return with a salmon barbecue.
On Thursday, Sept. 4, from 6-8:30 p.m., fish fans can enjoy a wild salmon dinner at the Boise Pavilion in Julia Davis Park. There will also be live music by Dan Costello and Blaze and Kelly. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger. Advance tickets can be purchased by calling Reel Foods at 208-343-7481 or online at idahorivers.org.
In other dining news, Juniper has officially launched its 10-seat Chef's Table, a five-course prix-fixe seasonal menu that's prepared and presented by Chef Aaron Wermerskirchen. Among the courses is a Rollingstone goat cheese and bacon-stuffed fried squash blossoms with sweet corn puree, basil oil and siracha. Seatings take place Wednesdays-Saturdays at 6 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person with an optional $25 wine pairing. For more info, call Juniper at 208-342-1142.
Moving from chef's tables to disco dining, Red Feather Lounge is hosting a '70s-themed Boogie Nights cocktail dinner Saturday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m.
"The inspiration came from a birthday party in L.A.," said bartender Kaytie Keck. "I attended an event at a roller rink for a friend and she had requested everyone to show up, skates in hand, with an outfit which would make anyone from Saturday Night Fever have to do a double take. The party succeeded in making us feel as if we had stepped out of a time machine."
The cocktail dinner's four-course menu will feature vintage drinks from the disco era with a "modern spin" utilizing new techniques and ingredients. Cocktails include the Manhattan, the gin and tonic, the Harvey Wallbanger and the Brandy Alexander. Dishes include sweet and sour meatballs, cheese log, deviled eggs, local greens tossed in green goddess dressing and Watergate salad, a light green dessert made with pistachio pudding, pineapple, whipped cream and marshmallows.