This post has been in the works for some time now. Ever since I had my first transcendental tomato of the season. Let me set the scene for you: Patrick, Emily and I had just finished picking boatloads of blueberries and were heading home along Oldfield Road when we decided to stop by Sun Wing Tomatoes. I picked up a few specimens - a handful of cheerful cherry tomatoes, a couple romas and then, on a whim, a variegated green guy. He was unassuming, mottled, a bit mushy in my hand. I didn't expect much. In fact I was otherwise preoccupied with slicing and stirring the latest variation of the tomato-and-bread-soup theme I can't seem to get enough of when I took a nibble and oh lordy. This was Some Tomato. Sharp, with a balanced, if not biting, acidity. It didn't need nothing - no salt, no pepper, no olive oil.
So ever since then I've been wanting to tell you all about my very favourite tomato sandwich. I fell in love with the recipe even before I tried it, after I read it on Saveur. The author (mysteriously unnamed) admits that this "summer sandwich is kind of a private thing. It's messy - and who wants to own up to using both butter and mayo?" and suggests that "if you're ever home alone one hot afternoon give this a try." When I did just that the result was as transcendent as any first tomato of the season. You can eat this sandwich for breakfast, lunch or supper and, of course, embellish it to your heart's content. I like it pretty simply though, very early in the morning, wearing my blue-striped Canadian Tire pajama shirt with the sleeves rolled up; my arms dangling over the sink; hot, creamy, tomato juice sliding down my fingers.
But I guess it makes me kinda blue, thinking about tomatoes, and how you sure as hell can't grow them like they do where you grew up, against the concrete wall of your house, tethered to sticks with rags. Try as you might, here in Victoria the tomatoes tend to languish in chill winds and just warmish temperatures. And then, maybe it's this going-back-to-school thing, but it feels like this Summer is a closed case, a shut book, already done and over with. It barely feels like it happened though, or even started. The sad truth of the matter is that I wait all year for tomatoes and this year I don't even want to eat them.
But in case you do (and I do hope you do) you won't be disappointed with this:
Adapted from Saveur, though it's hard to say it better.
It is extremely important that you have tomatoes of exceptional quality here. If you don't, then I suggest you make something else. But, if you do, then oh boy, you are in for a treat. I like to use an all-white bread here (the farmers loaf from Cobs to be specific) but you can use whatever you prefer. The mayonnaise can be homemade or store-bought. I admit that I buy a jar of Hellman's around this time of year just for this purpose. That and potato salad.
1 really ripe, juicy tomato (or a couple smaller guys)
2 fairly thin slices of good bread
butter, at a spreadable temperature
sea salt and black pepper
Thickly slice the tomato. Toast the bread, butter it, then slather a thick layer of mayonnaise on either side. Lay on several slices of tomato, season with a generous sprinkle of salt, a few good grinds of black pepper and the tiniest pinch of sugar.
Roll up your sleeves (or just take off your shirt), lean over the sink, and bite through the crisp buttered bread and creamy mayonnaise, and into the sweet taste of summer. Abandon yourself. And let the juice run down your arms.
Serves 1. Perfectly.