As unfortunate as it’s been that summer seemed to slumber up until the past few weeks, that sudden burst of heat did wonders for tomatoes, concentrating them and their peak season. If you, like Pablo Neruda, care to celebrate that “the tomato offers / its gift / of fiery color / and cool completeness,” you need to get to the four properties in the Boutique Hotel Collection in SLO County for “Ode to Tomatoes: A Culinary Happening.” Running from September 22-October 6, the event celebrates the wondrous fruit/vegetable in almost 20 varieties, from green doctors to boxcar Willies, with four-course, totally tomato-centric prix-fixe menus. Sure there’s a gazpacho (a fine one at that), but then there’s something like a pineapple tomato Napoleon with seared Texas toast, an over-easy egg, white truffle vinaigrette, and a smattering of arugula (think of this as the best McMuffin you’ll ever have). And there’s tomato dessert, too — turns out the tomato’s very much a fruit, scrumptiously subbing for apples in an upside-down green-tomato caramel pecan pie.
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