Appetizers
July 25, 2011
Tomato truffle and tomato gelato are ready for TomatoFest

We dropped by Capital Confections for preview tastes of two unusual items that owner Teresa Higgins has concocted for the second annual TomatoFest. Her store is at Town & Country village, the site of Saturday's all-things-tomato celebration (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Earlier this year, Higgins created the Red Hot Chili Truffle - chili oil-infused ganache covered in a dark-chocolate shell. It was a hit, but it wasn't hot enough for some chocolate-lovers. So she added more fire for a second version, the Double Hot.

For a special TomatoFest novelty item, she added sun-dried tomato to the original hot truffle to produce the Lil Hot Tomata Truffle. It packs a bit of fire, plus bits of subtly flavored sun-dried tomato. Give it a thumbs-up. It and the other two truffles are $2.50 per 1.5-ounce piece.

Higgins didn't stop there. She conferred with Rick Blakeney, president of the Latest Scoop Italian ice-cream company in Berkeley, to develop a creamy tomato gelato, which I tasted Saturday. It gets its texture and flavor from tomato puree and diced sun-dried tomato. Think "tomato bisque meets gelato." Among my notes: "Tomato tang in every bite...balanced flavor...rich gelato." Another thumbs-up. Individual servings are $3.50 to $8.25.

As for the second annual TomatoFest, those tomatoes growing in your backyard garden could be a "cash crop. At stake is $500 in prize money for each winner in three tomato categories: largest, smallest and ugliest. The tomatoes must be ripe. Contestants can download entry forms at www.theterracecuisine.com, or register tomatoes in person by 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Also: Restaurant chefs will compete for the Orient & Flume glass-art trophy and bragging rights as they prepare their best salsa, bruschetta and cold or hot tomato-based soup (samples will be available to help attendees decide on the People's Choice Award). Last year's grand-prize winner was chef Jon Nelson of Sienna in El Dorado Hills.

Look for a village-wide sidewalk sale, live music, art displays, winetasting, gardening demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, a children's area, a Tomato Trot for kids 13 and younger, and performances by the Sacramento Theatre Company. Plus: fried green tomatoes.

Town & Country Village is at Marconi and Fulton avenues, Sacramento; (916) 933-4056, www.shoptownandcountry.com.

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