23 August 2013

Red, Red, Brandywines

by Kelly Merrick

This week I witnessed one of nature’s most beautiful feats in my very own backyard: the slow ripening of a big, juicy Brandywine tomato. But this isn’t just any tomato. It’s the very first heirloom tomato I have ever grown myself.

Couldn't Be Prouder

Couldn’t Be Prouder

The sight of my ripening Brandywines practically makes me giddy. Much like a parent, I rush home every day after work to greet my tomatoes, marveling at how much they grew or ripened that day, and at the same time grateful that I managed to keep them alive. You see, this is my first garden, and the first time I’ve ever grown tomatoes. And to tell you the truth, I don’t really know what I’m doing.

I purchased my precious Brandywine tomato starts a few months ago from SunGold Farms, took them home, planted them in what seemed to be the perfect-sized container, and promptly ignored all of the traditional advice experienced gardeners would give. Then I started watching them grow, hoping I would be lucky enough to avoid the common problems that plague many tomato-growers.

And somehow, I have.

Since I noticed the first sign of the first tomato ripening, I’ve been planning how I’m going to eat it, and so far, I can’t decide.

Do I simply slice it and sprinkle it with salt and pepper? Or serve it Caprese style? Do I add it to the top of a juicy hamburger? Or grill it on top of a slice of eggplant with some goat feta? The possibilities are endless, so what do you think?image

If you’re not sure either, then perhaps you should visit one of the weekend markets and bring some home to try yourself, because the stands are practically bursting with a rainbow of the most beautiful and flavorful tomatoes you’ve ever seen.

But enough about tomatoes, because there are plenty of other, equally as worthwhile, things you can find at the market.

Like live music at the PSU, Kenton and Pioneer Square markets. Or Rogue Brewing’s Great American Beerd Festival.

The festival will take place this weekend and not surprisingly, will feature beer and beards a-plenty. The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday starting at Noon on Portland State’s campus, in Smith Memorial Hall and aside from the great brews you can sample and beards you can gawk at, there’s also another reason you should go. Rogue is donating proceeds to Farmers Market Fund, the market’s companion nonprofit that operates Fresh Exchange, the market money-matching program for SNAP recipients.

Tomatoes, beer and beards. What more could you ask for at a Portland Farmers Market?