The idea of mixing watermelon and tomato (see my blog "Tomato, Mozzarella and ... Watermelon?") may well have found its way to Aspen by way of Spain. Seven years ago a young chef name Barclay Dodge spent four months at El Bulli in Spain apprenticing with Ferran Adriá, the legendary chef who rethinks everything about food. One of Adriá's simpler ideas was a cold, pureed soup of tomato and watermelon, spiked with basil and olive oil.
Back in the U.S., Dodge opened a new restaurant in Aspen called Mogador, where he used a lot of what he learned in Spain, including a variation on that tomato and watermelon soup. He made a broth of the tomato water, straining out the solids, and floated tiny dice of watermelon in it with strands of basil. It was a refreshing and distinctive combination.
Watermelon and tomato plays a role in R Cuisine, the Aspen restaurant where Dodge now cooks. He makes a watermelon and watercress salad (using cress he harvests from a local stream every morning). It's garnished with Marcona almonds, diced feta cheese and diced tomatoes in extra-virgin olive oil. I've had it four times this summer, most recently with Littorai Chardonnay Thieriot Vineyard 2002.
Dodge's penchant for the combination seems to have inspired other chefs in town to play with the flavors and textures of these two fruits. (Tomatoes are fruits, botanically speaking.) So it's not a weird combination, just something that hasn't become widespread.
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — August 9, 2007 10:42am ET
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