A large, shallow white bowl was backdrop for the riot of color, aroma and flavor that Schroder calls Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho. Elegant dice of avocado, cucumber, red onion and red bell pepper shared the stage with halved heirloom cherry tomatoes, shaved radishes and micro basil.
The underlying “soup” was a refined blend of vegetable broth, garlic, leek, herbs and large Cherokee purple heirlooms, gently simmered together then strained. Cherokee purples are not just about color incidentally; these beauties are prized for their dense, juicy texture and rich, complex flavor.
Served with a spoonful of bracing citrus granita and a few “spiced” corn chips, it was a feast for the eyes and for the tongue, which got to navigate around a lot of different textures. And, as any good “starter” should, it provided a subtle, aromatic entry into the rest of the dinner (which included terrific miso-glazed black cod and sautéed John Dory with caponata ravioli).
I still have fond memories of the gazpacho I made in the ‘70s when we baby-boomers were learning to cook. Every summer, we’d make gallons of the chic and trendy, cold Spanish soup, tossing tomatoes, veggies, garlic and vinegar into the blender with gay abandon and, five minutes later, serving the totally pulverized red potage with a few nubbins of cucumber and onion sprinkled on top.
But now, happily, I have even fonder memories of gazpacho – Carl Schroeder’s Mona Lisa to my own “Paint-by-Number.”