Ahhh tomatoes – the ultimate summer food – ripe, juicy and brimming with sunshine goodness. Tomatoes are a passion for many people – including Provence Chefs/Proprietors Alessandra and Jean-Francis Quaglia. “We are fortunate to have so many heirloom varieties available locally,” says Chef Jean-Francis. “There isn’t any flavour that says ‘summer’ more to me than tomato. The flavours are so intense and each variety is completely different from the other but all are equally wonderful.”

All this month Provence Restaurants – Provence Mediterranean Grill (P1) in Point Grey and Provence Marinaside (P2) in Yaletown celebrate all things tomato with its Fifth Annual Tomato Festival – featuring special three-course prix fixe menus that will satisfy even the most addicted tomato-holic. Each of the two restaurants has a completely different menu and price. Mediterranean Grill’s offers a prix fixe menu for $45 while over at Marinaside, they are offering a multiple-choice three-course menu for $48 with an optional wine pairing for an additional $20.

Provence Mediterranean Grill’s menu ($45) starts with Tomato Three Ways that includes chilled tomato ‘cappuccino,’ buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad and a Provençal tomato tartlette. Once you’ve polished that off, you must then decide between one of two main courses – how do you choose between Duck Breast Scaloppini or Pan-Seared Mediterranean Sea Bass Filet ? Both come accompanied by smoked tomato and bacon marmalade, fiddleheads and sun-dried tomato gnocchi. For dessert, there is Candied Tomato Panna Cotta served with rhubarb honey and a pistachio tuile.

At Provence Marinaside in Yaletown, the $48 menu offers a multiple choices for each course. Sommelier Rachelle Goudreau has also suggested an optional wine pairing ($20) to enhance your meal. Starters in include three tough choices – Fresh Tomato Tarte, accompanied by black olive tapenade, tomato, garlic chips and puff pastry makes an appearance on the menu as a starter. The suggested wine pairing is Joiefarm 2013 Noble Blend, Naramata, BC. Or, you may choose a Tomato Festival favourite – Chilled Yellow Campari Tomato Soup with tomato and black garlic vinaigrette (Unsworth 2013 Rosé, Cowichan Valley, BC). The third starter choice is a refreshing Tomato and Nectarine Salad with grilled prawns and basil oil (Covert Farms 2013 Amicitia White, Okanagan, BC)

Chef Jean-Francis is also offering three choices of mains:

•    Halibut Puttanesca accompanied by zucchini ribbons, polenta anchovy, black olive, tomato caper sauce (Muga 2013 Rosé, Rioja, Spain)

•    Dungeness Crab and Heirloom Tomato Stew – another perennial Festival favourite chock full of crab, mussels, clams, scallops fennel and roasted tomatoes in a white wine garlic broth (Clos du Soleil 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Similkameen, BC)

•    Seared Sockeye Salmon accompanied by yellow tomato and warm vegetable salad, oven-roasted plum tomato vinaigrette (Covert Farms 2012 Rosé, Okanagan, BC)

To end on a sweet note Marinaside diners choose a dessert from the restaurant’s regular menu. Crème Caramel is a classic choice or you may opt for Provence’s signature Lemon Tarte or their version of a traditional favourite – Berry and White Chocolate Clafoutis to name but three of the many choices available (Unsworth Ovation, Cowichan Valley, BC).

To get you into the ‘Tomato Spirit’ Chefs Jean-Francis and Alessandra enlisted the help of their talented elder son Matisse to make Provence’s Tomato Festival Video.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve never heard of a Black Krim or know how to tell a Green Zebra from Aunt Ruby’s German Green, once you’ve tasted an heirloom tomato, one thing is for sure – you’ll be able to tell the difference between them and the tasteless varieties found in many supermarkets. So do yourself a flavour favour and discover the joys of ‘real tomatoes’ at Provence’s Fifth Annual Tomato Festival this August. Full menus can be viewed and reservations made on Provence’s website.

Provence Marinaside
1177 Marinaside Crescent
604 – 681-4144

Provence Mediterranean Grill
Point Grey
4473 West 10th Ave.

Vancouver, BC


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