There is the world and then there is Japan. California is known to have ideal climate to grow incredible produce. As a result we have seen farm-to-table (or more like garden to table, like Chez Panisse, Ubuntu RIP, TFL, etc. that employ farmers and gardeners to grow their own produce). I was raised in California and fortunate to have access to fruits and vegetables from farms, before Farmer’s Markets became a thing. My father used to drive through the farm lands of Half Moon Bay, made friends with all the local farmers and would bring home produce still covered in dirt.
Japan is on a completely different level.
This year I’ve been trolling a lot of the markets out of curiosity and blown away by the variety. Like right now, it seems like cherry tomatoes are in season. I popped by my local Mitsukoshi (a department store equivalent to a Nieman Marcus or Harrods) to check out the produce in the food section and couldn’t believe the number of cherry tomato variations there were.
And I saw something I never saw in supermarkets before…
The micro yellow tomatoes are self explanatory but the bulby thing on the left I had to google.
In Japanese, it’s called hōzuki. The English translation is caped gooseberry. Caped gooseberries are part of the tomato, eggplant, potato, pepper family and according to Food52:
Their flavor is almost as confusing as their name. The berry’s unusual taste is compared to various combinations of tomato, strawberry, mango, pineapple, vanilla, fig, grape, and more — it’s enough to make your head spin. Author and naturalist Euell Gibbons wisely summed up their elusive essence as “so good it doesn’t have to resemble something else.” We’re inclined to agree.
Further googling pulled up caped gooseberry recipes mainly from UK and New Zealand domains, so I’m assuming they make appearances more there, than in the States. Learn something new everyday.
Here is a simple asparagus and cherry tomato recipe I’ve used for years. I default to this recipe to serve with a store bought roast chicken or fish (for shame, I know). But sometimes quick and easy is what I require.
Easy roasted asparagus and tomato side dish
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
A basket or so of grape tomatoes, halved
Combine the asparagus and water in a 10 inch skillet and place over medium heat; cover. Allow the asparagus to steam until tender, about 10 minutes; drain. Reduce heat to low and return the skillet to the heat. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Add the grape tomatoes to the skillet and replace the lid. Allow to sit covered until the cheese melts and the tomatoes are slightly steamed, about 2 minutes.
via adapted from AllRecipes. My version is slightly different but since they have measurements (and I don’t measure) I thought this would be better.
Two more photos of tomatoes in case you’re interested….
These two look identical! Is there really a difference in taste??? Just from the ones I managed to take photos of there are six different kinds: King and berry cherry tomatoes from the Aichi prefecture. Berry tomatoes from Wakayama prefecture. Award winning cherry tomatoes from who knows where.