This job rocks sometimes. I mean what other profession includes hanging with your friends in the middle of the day drinking the best wines while sampling a five course meal created by the areas best chefs? Really, this is the best gig in the world. With a relaxed and blissful heart I get to tell you about the new event “Ode to Tomatoes”. Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort has created the tomato/herb garden (with the help of chefs, a consulting gardener and lots of water and love) and it will be the center of this new event. They are cultivating almost 20 varieties of tomatoes such as the scrumptious Brandy Wine, Green Zebra, Striped German, Sweet Loo, Box Car Willie, and Black Sea Man at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Beach. All the chefs have access to this garden and created some amazing dishes to show us all what to expect.

We started in the Garden Retreat at Sycamore sampling a tomato bruschetta while sipping Clayhouse Adobe Pink wine and for some, watermelon mojito’s. This picturesque garden is both functional and beautiful, where they will be serving special meals during the event. We moved over to the Garden’s Of Avila to start our five-course meal with an heirloom Gazpacho. Chef Stephen Walls concocted this sweet, fiery cold soup. The balances of flavors were impeccable, paired with a Roberts Sinskey 2010 Abraxas.

Our next course was a dish, I will dream of and desire. This Pineapple Tomato Napoleon prepared by the master chef Greg Wangard, was phenomenal. A tower of flavor that included a thick slice of Hippy Stripe Zebra tomato, Texas toast with an over easy fried egg and white truffle vinaigrette blew our minds. Paired with the Eroica Riesling from Chateau St. Michelle, this dish disregarded conformity. We were all still talking about it the next day. Our Warm Tomato Tart with house made buffalo mozzarella on a basil puff pastry made by Chef Casey Walcott continued to amaze us on just how versatile this tomato could be. The main course, presented by Chef Pandee Pearson was a summer roasted heirloom tomato and short rib Ragout. Served with a Parisian gnocchi and a Parmesan cheese pistou, I was astounded by the textures and flavors. It was paired with a Porter Creek 2009 Old Vine Carignane that was double decanted and tasted like liquid love.

Then came the biggest surprise, an upside-down green tomato caramel pecan pie with Gorgonzola crème anglaise. I was shocked, but this totally worked. It was delicious. This surprising and delicious concoction defied all the rules of dessert that I knew of and I couldn’t wait for my husband to try this.

Ode to Tomato is September 22 thru October 6 and you can try these and other dishes from the chefs from the Marisol Restaurant at the Cliffs Resort, the Sea Venture Resort Restaurant, the Apple Farm Wine Country Inn, and the Gardens of Avila. Each course will be paired perfectly with a selection from the Sunset Western Wine Awards nominee list.

Join the celebration of the incomparable tomato, its intoxicating deliciousness and seductive beauty in its multitude of forms at this culinary happening. The Ode to Tomatoes details is at www.thecliffsresort.com.