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Pick the right tomatoes and taste the difference; A Taste of the North with: Michelin-starred chef James Close of the Raby Hunt.

TOMATOES are ripe and in season for all of this month and I just love them. T just love them. TI have a good friend in Ken Holland, my vegetable and specialist producer of all things fantastic that can be grown in your garden.

Over the last 12 months we have been planning together to create a salad to beat all other salads. is has been on our menu now for the last few weeks. I use the best of Ken's produce combined with variations of cooking techniques to put summer on a plate.

is last week Ken has been bringing me all sorts of weird and wonderful heirloom tomatoes. When I asked Ken what their names were, he said he had no idea! Apparently the seeds came on order from the USA, with 10 varieties quickly sown and grown without any attention paid to the names.

Let's be honest, though, its the taste that counts - and they are amazing!

Ken has sourced these seeds from a lady called Cynthia at Love Apple Farm, California, who is renowned worldwide for tomato-growing and her relationship with David Kinch (the Michelin three-starred chef at Manresa in California).

Heirloom tomatoes provide far superior 'avour than their storebought counterparts. If you're interested in growing heirloom tomatoes, you can buy seeds online. But what is an heirloom tomato? Many people have heard the term but don't really know what it means.

Happily, there's a simple de"nition: a variety that has been passed down from gardener to gardener. Unlike modern hybrid varieties, heirloom tomatoes come from true seed, mak-mak ing them easy to share.

e main reason I choose heirloom varieties is the 'avour. ere's no single heirloom tomato taste; you'll "nd a wide range of 'avours in the heirloom tomato world.

However, many heirlooms are prized for having an old-time taste that's a far cry from tomatoes at the supermarket.

So once again, and as I say every week: if you're making this dish at home, get your ingredients from your local greengrocer not the supermarket!

Supermarket food looks great and that's the idea - uniform, perfectly formed cellophane-wrapped food that fails to deliver on 'avour. But at your local veg store, you can pick it, smell it, test for ripeness. Meanwhile the dierence in taste is noticeable in almost every ingredient.

One of my ultimate holiday destinations has got to be the La Tomatina T tomato festival in Valencia, Spain. Each year around this time the residents of Valencia "ll the streets of Bunol and basically have a tomato "ght. Over the years it has attracted global interest and now welcomes upwards of 40,000 people, all in celebration of the humble tomato. So in my own way, to celebrate the tomato, I have created something wonderful with Ken Holland's random oerings and hope that you will enjoy sourcing and combining your own with help of the following recipe.

| James Close is head chef at Raby |Hunt Restaurant, Summerhouse, Darlington, 01325 374 237.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 9, 2014
Words:499
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