Thursday, October 30, 2014

Backyard Farms Tomato Lunch at Nebo (Boston, MA)

I recently had the opportunity to try out Nebo at a lunch with Backyard Farms. Backyard Farms is a tomato farm in Central Maine. Their 42 acres grow 4 tomato varieties that supple Whole Foods and some restaurants in the area. It's one of the few farms in New England that grow year round (most are just in winter - not something I thought about much while in California) and they recently won Best Products Supplier in North Atlantic Region from Whole Foods.

They're launching a new varietal called Somerset Pink that has been in the making for 2 years. It's tough to grow tomatoes! The somerset pink is like a beefsteak tomato so the texture is robust for salads and sandwiches, but it has a higher sugar content than most other beefsteak tomatoes.

Our lunch at Nebo started with a plate of Backyard Farms Somerset Pink tomato with burrata, saba, EVOO

So, saba is the must that results from the first pressing of wine grapes, that is then cooked and concentrated to a syrupy consistency. It has a strong, balsamic-vinegar like flavor that goes really nicely with the fresh tomatoes and creamy burrata.

The restaurant is started by 2 Italian sisters who hail from Boston's North End. Before opening the restaurant, they were running a hair salon. But one day, one of them decided she wants to open a restaurant serving their mother's style of cooking. They have some great stories about the North End to tell!
Did you know that North End is still separated into regions of Italy? The people living on Endicott and Prince Sts are from Naples while those on Waterfront are Sicilian! Italians are known to be very loyal and they still buy from same purveyors in North End that their grandmother used. That also means they have great relationships and can call them in the middle of the night should emergency arise.

Another example is the story of this bread.
Their family has been making this bread using a 100-year old potato-based starter. The thing with bread starters is that they have to keep being "fed", which is normally fine if you're baking regularly. But Nebo had moved from the North End to this Waterfront location a few years ago and they had to keep it alive during the move! Everyone at the restaurant including the upper management people had to take turns keeping this ancient baby alive every 8 hours.

Anyway, the bread was served with some Backyard Farms vine ripe tomato jam. The jam is made with saba, chili powder, ginger, cumin, and other secret ingredients. It's a wonderful jam (and goes well with prosecco).

This jam is so popular people are approaching them to bottle it for supermarkets.

Lunch continued with a platter of Salumi Misti:
Prosciutto di parma, mortadella, finocchiona salami, coppa, speck

Next is a pasta course that they secretly call Christina's Breakfast Pasta (it's the sister Christina's favorite pasta to make and eat in the morning).
Spaghettini, Backyard Farms cocktail tomato, capers, olives, EVOO
The olives are browned in a cast iron pan, giving them a nice charred flavors.

Veraci in Brodo: Baby clams from Italy, Finicchiona salami, ceci beans, Backyard Farms cocktail tomato
The cocktail tomatoes are great to use in both a stronger flavored dish like the pasta and a lighter one like these clams. I loved eating the tomatoes on the bread also.

Pizza Bianco: Backyard Farms beefsteak tomato, prosciutto cotto, ricotta, mozzarella, arugula, parmigiano
The beefsteak tomato is the heartiest tomato they grow and can stand up to stronger flavors like peppery arugula.

You can find their tomatoes at Whole Foods all over New England. You won't miss them with their cute and eye catching packaging! I've been eating their cocktail tomatoes by themselves as snacks. So sweet.

520-530 Atlantic Avenue
< Boston, MA 02210
(617) 723-6326
Nebo on Urbanspoon


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