GLENN – Since 2008, Muir Glen has been producing a line of Reserve Tomatoes – a limited edition of exceptional organic tomatoes grown in Yolo County CA. This year’s edition – The Harvest Sunset Reserve, a blend of red and yellow tomatoes – won’t be available until Nov. 1. However, Muir Glen promoted the release with a press party for Boston bloggers. I was invited to the event last year and was fortunate to be included, along with Katrin, on this year’s guest list. This year’s event was markedly different from last year’s – rather than being presented Chef Gilson’s creations for our enjoyment and appraisal, we would be assisting in their preparation. This was an interactive cooking class at the Boston Center for Adult Education and we would be slicin’ and dicin’ for our supper.
KATRIN – We were warmly welcomed by Muir Glen’s Julie Johnson, who answered questions about the 2011 line of Reserve Tomatoes and Muir Glen. BCAE had set up tables in front of one of their state-of-the-art kitchens. As the bloggers and food writers gathered, we were treated to light snacks and wine. I was delighted to see one of my favorite value wines – Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa – being served, alongside a Michael Pozzan Pinot Noir.
GLENN - The theme of the class was “Elevating Simple Dishes”. Chef Gilson prepared two items – ratatouille for which he used the fire-roasted Reserve tomatoes and tomato soup using the diced Reserve accompanied, of course, by grilled cheese sandwiches. After the bloggers-turned-temporary-prep-cooks had readied the ingredients for each, the chef began his lesson. As he cooked, he covered a broad range of topics keyed towards improving relatively mundane dishes. Topics included – when to add garlic to a dish; the use of dried vs. fresh herbs; when to add herbs for maximum flavor; finishing with olive oil; regular blenders vs. immersion blenders. But of course, the primary step to elevate any dish is to use quality ingredients such as Muir Glen tomatoes. Finally, it was time to eat. We seated ourselves and were served the fruits of our labors.
KATRIN – Chef Gilson is a natural teacher – and entertainer – in front of a group of eager students, looking to gain insight into how he comes up with his more complex dishes and to learn new techniques. In fact, he has been teaching at Newbury College this semester and his students from the course joined us. A big thank you to Chef Gilson, Julie Johnson of Muir Glen, BCAE, and, of course, Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes!
GLENN – And kudos to Emily Gelsomin of A Plum By Any Other Name for patiently and expertly grilling the cheese sandwiches!
Muir Glen Harvest Sunset Reserve 2011 tomatoes are only available online beginning Nov. 1.