Family dinner is a dinner party hosted at my home in the 7th ward of New Orleans every Tuesday night at 7pm for anywhere from 6 to 15 close friends and family. The event was born in search of a way to spend time with friends outside of a bar setting, tired of screaming over loud music paying too much money for bad drinks without privacy. My favorite memories with friends and family have always happened in someones mom’s kitchen. We grew up in those kitchens, chastised for eating meatballs out of the pot, or sneaking “the good cheese, reserved for guests,” when we thought mom wasn’t looking, inevitably shooed to the other side of an island or a table with a glass of wine because we were helping wrong or in the way. We would sit back and listen to family go on and on about stories of their youth. Selfishly wanting to be that mom, I began cooking for my friends and family in New Orleans, the only rule being to bring wine. It’s been about a year since I began, and though I have never thought of myself as a writer, I am most certainly a hostess, a story teller and a photographer.
This recipe is so insanely simple I honestly thought that Betsy was lying to me when I begged her for the recipe from Paladar 511 in the Marigny. She swore to me it really was just simply, olive oil, salt and basil on good local tomatoes with burrata. I have done some variation on this many times before for dinner but all have included balsamic which I can tell you now you will not miss.
When I tell you my mother has dropped dead in place reading this blog dedicated to tomatoes I am not exaggerating. I don’t think I ate a single tomato until I moved to New Orleans, granted the addition of creamy burrata cheese and Maggie Scales’ ciabatta that I have stock piled in my freezer definitely helps. The tomatoes in New Orleans in the summer are just better than normal tomatoes. I honestly don’t know how else to put this sudden change of heart that I have had on a food that I wouldn’t even touch for 25 years of my life.
I realize this is less of a recipe and more of a declaration of my new found love of tomatoes. If you’re in the New Orleans area, check out the Crescent City Farmers market for tomatoes and basil, they’re uptown on Broadway on Tuesdays which makes a perfect hop skip to the recently opened Bellegarde bakery for bread and St James for cheese to pair with. I served this last night as a prelude to the tiniest meatballs which I will be writing about soon. I will say though that these tomatoes came back out late in the evening and were completely finished.