The best way to enjoy tomatoes in the middle of Winter is to use a canned product like those by Muir Glen.
It's no secret that Corner Table Restaurant is one of my favorite spots in town — I wouldn't have chosen to spend my birthday dinner there several weeks ago if it weren't. So when I received an invitation for a promotional cooking demonstration and dinner at Corner Table, for the Muir Glen Tomato Vine Dining Tour, I was happy to accept.
I suspect that local foods advocate and chef/owner Scott Pampuch was well aware that he'd raise a few eyebrows when he signed on for the tour. Even though Muir Glen — a division of General Mills — is locally owned, the tomatoes are grown in California.
For those of you who pay attention to where your food comes from, buy the highest quality food you can afford, shop farmers markets and local co-ops when you can, and happily eat canned organic California tomatoes in the middle of a Minnesota winter — I'm with you. I received a few cans of tomatoes as a parting gift after the dinner, but it's not like I don't have a cupboard full of — as it turns out — Muir Glen tomatoes anyhow.
I do not have, however, the Muir Glen Reserve tomatoes, a limited-edition variety available only online, which The Vine Dining Tour specifically promotes. Pampuch and four other national chefs toured the 3-acre field where the tomatoes are grown, picked at peak ripeness, and canned within hours.