After a croissant and a lazy grand crème, we decided to leave for Marmande, a town we had yet to visit and, according to the guide book we had with us, ‘the capital of tomatoes’.
It was was also market day, so I left full of delicious anticipation, hoping to find some of the famous regional tomatoes. Unfortunately, when we arrived in the town center, we discovered there was no market at all. I was disappointed, but seeing the new sights and the warm summer sunshine quickly lifted my spirits.
Well, it turned out to be our lucky day…
As we approached Place Clemenceau, it became evident that something exciting was happening. There was music playing, and in the distance, crowds were gathering around market stalls. This wasn’t the weekly market though. That much soon became obvious. But what were they selling? What was the occasion?
We had ended up at the annual Tomato Fiesta! As I came closer, I saw that the stalls were selling all kinds of regional and tomato products – from preserves to fresh Marmande tomatoes to regional wine. I was overjoyed! But the biggest surprise came when I laid eyes upon the largest tomato tart I had ever seen! It was glistening with ruby red slices of tomato and dotted with black and green olives: a colorful work of culinary art I simply could not resist. We purchased three slices, grabbed a table at brasserie Les Neuf Fontaines, ordered large glasses of chilled Sauvignon Blanc and had the most delicious lunch ever. After that memorable experience, Marmande tomatoes became one of my favorite varieties. Whenever I visit the region, every market trip sees them disappearing into my basket. Though their sweet, beefy flesh is best enjoyed with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fleur de sel, they also lend themselves beautifully to all kinds of preparations.
Stay tuned for a recipe!
Note: This year the festival will take place from July 20th-22nd.