MONTICELLO — The 2014 Tomatoes at the Trotter not only fed tomato enthusiasts, but also the University of Arkansas-Monticello School of Agriculture Scholarship Fund.
“It went extremely well,” said Bob Stark, professor of agriculture economics for University of Arkansas at Monticello and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Southeast Research and Extension Center.
Hosted by the UA-Monticello’s historic Trotter House bed-and-breakfast, more than five dozen attendees enjoyed Chef Brian Cherry’s four-course meal. Cherry’s menu, that was made unique, in that every course used Arkansas-grown heirloom tomatoes as the main ingredients.
“Everybody really enjoyed the dinner,” Stark said. “They said the dessert was especially good.”
The dessert was a Georgia Streak creme brulee with bacon, caramel and whipping cream.
During the heirloom tomato-tasting, 11 varieties were sampled. Among the attendees’ favorites was the Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato. Known for its sweetness, this deeply colored purple fruit was said to have originated with the Cherokee people. It came to the attention of heritage tomato collector in North Carolina and was introduced to the wider public in 1991.
Dinner organizers also introduced diners to a black variety called “Black from Tula.” Described by some as having salty and smoky characteristics, this tomato also became one of the diners’ favorites. Other heritage tomatoes getting top reviews at the dinner were the Arkansas Traveler and the Moonglow.
Zach Taylor, director of marketing for the Arkansas Agriculture Department, gave a talk about how locally grown produce plays a huge role in bringing back economy to the community, Stark said.
The event’s unusual menu was key to exposing diners to Arkansas agriculture. Those who attended included some “that would not have gotten agricultural meetings,” he said. This is a good opportunity for promotion and information sharing, he added.
For more information about tomato production and agricultural economy, visit www.uaex.edu or contact your county extension office.
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The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.