Sunday, August 5, 2012


One of our most interesting and eccentric regular guests at the Cantina is the man who owns the hotel next door (as well as half of town).  He speaks wonderful English, and knows literally every single thing in the world - it's like having a walking dictionary and encyclopedia who is eager to share facts about Frank Sinatra's Ligurian heritage, the origins of the Monterossini word for apricot, and what the Japanese stock market is doing.  It's always amusing, but one of my favorite parts about his visits this time of year is the produce he brings me from his garden, or orto, here in town.  A few weeks ago, it was huge wooden crates of bumpy little apricots, sweet and easy to pry open and pop in your mouth.  Occasionally it's asado from festivals around the region (and yes, he knows every single one).  This week, it's tomatoes.  Soft and still warm from the sun, fresh tomatoes are one food that I can smell and immediately be transported to a moment as a child, standing in my grandparents backyard at their little garden picking tomatoes with my Grandpa.  The huge bowl of tomatoes from Monterosso provided lunch, dinner and snacks for several days - simply drizzled with olive oil and a little bit of salt, or in the tomato salad my Grandma used to make with the tomatoes from our garden at home.  When I was younger, this tomato salad was a dish of magic.  Gram's special tomato salad.  Even now, though it's a salad with 5 ingredients, I can't ever get the ratio of oil to vinegar right, or the amount of oregano, or find red onions sweet enough - it never tastes exactly like my Gram's.  But even so, the smell of these fresh tomatoes, right off the vine, chopped with lots of oil, vinegar, salt, oregano and slivers of red onion, is enough to bring me back to a time in my life that leaves me with a nostalgic smile - and, thanks to these tomatoes, a full stomach.


  1. Christine,
    Yes, my Italian grandma made this tomato salad but added sliced cucumbers and a little fresh basil. I'll be in Monterosso Sept 13-18 with my group of women for my Italy Retreat, so will stop in to say hello.
    I hope you still can get some rest during your busy August! Thanks for all your great blog posts and for the updates after the flood.

  2. Thanks for reading and look forward to seeing you in September! :)