Tomatoes and parents have a heartwarming connection. And not just for me. Last November my trip to Port Lincoln would not have been complete without rousing at 4.30am with Mum and Dad to fire up the gas in the garage & get the relish on the go. The early hour was carefully chosen for summer stillness, and while we stirred the industrial sized pot between toast and tea, rich aromas of tomato wafted down the street alerting the town of the impending vintage. Meanwhile the Spanakis’s on the East Coast were busy planting their own prize tomatoes, Mrs preferring the city climate of Randwick and Mr opting for salty sea breezes at their bungalow down the coast. Cheerfully competitive, the parents both produced outstanding heirloom fruit, and in posing with their trophy tomatoes who would ( dare ) suggest either was better? If pride was the judge, then clearly everyone was a winner.
Emi, daughter of the amiable agronomists, and I get together regularly to talk about the important things – like life in NYC and our parents. The venue needs to be conducive to conversation, with an uncomplicated menu and cheerful service. If the food is good that is a bonus, and last week the Brindle Room in the East Village scored on all counts. We arrived during happy hour and departed a couple of hours later still smiling. This was in no small way due to the waiter who commandeered our order. Fortunately we were allowed to share the mussels, complimented with wine by the mason jar, but the grilled fish was totally order non grata. The trendy ‘poutine’ – cheese curds with fries and duck gravy – would have been a curious calorific option, but no, our instruction was to have either the chicken or the burger. With the emphatic assurance that the burger was the best on the east coast, we complied. It was delicious, really good, the best I have tasted. A burger with cheese and caramelized onions. The chef was happy, we were happy – all that was needed to make it really perfect was the addition of some precious home grown tomato….