Enjoying deliciously ripe fruits and vegetables that go with al fresco living is what summer is all about. One very popular fruit, often mistaken for a vegetable due to its use in so many savoury dishes, is the tomato. High in powerful anti-oxidants which are hugely beneficial for the body, it is incredibly popular with 7kg of tomatoes being consumed yearly per person in Switzerland alone.
If you haven’t noticed, the Italian’s love tomatoes, using them in abundance in sauces and salads. It is therefore no coincidence that Carouge is the location for the annual Fête de la Tomate. Carouge, up until 1816, was a separate town from Geneva – alternatively French and Sardinian and the reason Carouge has such a Mediterranean/Italianate style. It certainly is my favourite part of town.
The Fête de la Tomate runs from the evening of Friday 7th July to Sunday 9th July 2017 in the place de Sardaigne. There is something for everyone to enjoy – from daytime kids’ entertainment to some fantastic evening concerts and is well worth a visit.
Local producers allow you to taste their products, including a pretty impressive range of tomato varieties of course. “100% Made in Switzerland” stalls offer artisanal products, there are free cookery classes on offer from Zoki the Social Chef, face painting, circus arts and a mini luna park for the kids, as well as live music playing until the early hours of the morning. Never heard of an all-female yodelling group? Now’s your chance.
Taste local drinks and cocktails, have something yummy to eat from one of the food trucks – there’s even a hog roast on offer. A great line up of concerts are lined up on both Friday and Saturday night, including Brazilian pop duo Do Sol and disco-funk group Time Machine (playing Friday) and rock band Les Bikers and Ladylicious (playing Saturday). Click here to find out more information on the groups on their English website.
On the Sunday, things slow down a pace, with a brunch provided by the Geneva Farmers’ Women Union, from 10-2pm.
This beautiful lusciously ripe fruit is used as a vegetable in so many well known dishes – not only in summer, but also winter in their tinned or jar form. My favourite summer salad is a panzanella salad – made with fresh mixed coloured tomatoes, stale ciabatta bread and caper berries. One of the simplest ways to enjoy the flavours and variety of tomatoes we have available during the summer, as well as great for using up any left over bread that has past its best. For the simple recipe, scroll to the bottom of this article.
History of the tomato
The tomato is a member of the nightshade family (along with peppers, aubergines and chillies), tomatoes originated from western South America where they then crossed the Atlantic to Spain in the 16th century, only finally reaching northern Europe in the 19th century. The number of varieties available today run into thousands, varying size and shape.
How best to store them
Choose firm tomatoes with wrinkle-free skins and make sure you smell them, they need to smell of tomatoes! Vine ripened tomatoes are the best and have the sweetest flavour. Check the leafy tops are looking fresh still, rather than wilted.
If your tomatoes aren’t ripe, you can help ripen them by placing them in a brown paper bag at room temperature or place them on a windowsill.
Never store tomatoes in the fridge, it ruins their taste.
The most common types of tomatoes
Beefsteak: these are the biggest tomatoes, and have a meaty texture with a sweet, mellow flavour. They are good for salads, grilling or stuffing.
Salad (or round): this is the traditional tomato and are a good all rounder. Need to be ripe to get the best flavour.
Cherry: small and very sweet, cherry tomatoes are pricier than salad tomatoes but their intense flavour is worth the extra cash. Come in variety of colours and shapes and are good in salads, pasta sauces or roasted.
Plum: Available as a baby or full-grown tomato, plum tomatoes have an oval shape, with a rich flavour and comparatively few seeds. Good for making sauces and stews.
Green: there are two types of green tomato. One is unripe, and is quite tart but good for chutneys, or fried. The other is a variety that stays green when ripe, has a tangy flavour and is good in salads or, again, fried.
Yellow: these ripen to a golden yellow colour, and are good in salads, salsas and chutneys.
What’s the best way to get to the festival?
Take tram 12, 14, 18 – place du Marché stop or bus 11, 21, 22, 41, 42, 44, 45 – Tours-de-Carouge stop then it’s a short stroll to the centre of Carouge and place de Sardaigne. For up to date information on the festival, check out their Facebook page FeteDeLaTomate.
How to make my favourite Panzanella Salad
200 g stale ciabatta loaf (or any crusty loaf)
600g ripe different coloured mixed tomatoes, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
A handful of caper berries
1 small red onion, peeled and very finely sliced
Red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
Tear the ciabatta roughly into 3cm pieces and place on a tray. Leave aside in a warm place for around 30 minutes – this helps to dry it out.
Place the tomatoes in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Rinse the capers, squeezing out any excess liquid and add to the bowl, along with the onion and ciabatta. Toss the mixture together with your hands, then stir in 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Taste and add a little more salt, pepper, vinegar or oil, if needed. Tear in the basil leaves and serve immediately.