Feb 14, 2020 Food
Hot take – Curious Cropper are the Gucci of NZ tomatoes.
I love a tomato. Home-grown tomatoes cut in half, drizzled in oil and balsamic and sprinkled with sea salt and cracked pepper, or garnished with basil and thyme are the reason I am drafting a letter to Unicode demanding they add a chef’s kiss emoji to my phone immediately.
But tomatoes are also a tricky beast. You can’t always grow your own and as for store-bought, sometimes a tomato has spent too long in cold storage (storing tomatoes below 12 degrees stop the fruit – yes, fruit – from producing the enzymes which create zestiness) and is as a result flavourless (stop putting tomatoes in the fridge for fuck’s sake).
Sometimes the tomatoes are overwatered and have a gross mealy texture, very little flavour and a dull colour masked by supermarket neons, which you only realise when you get home (insert tiny sad violin noise here).
Thankfully, over the years I’ve watched the supermarket tomato section grow into a little aisle. I for one, adore the myriad kinds of cherry tomato consistently available to me. You can get tomatoes that ARE basically home-grown in the level of care which has gone into them, whatever the season. I love the multiple colours, the differing sourness levels and the mismatched sizes (if you don’t know why that’d be a great thing, go along to Lillian in Grey Lynn and try their heirloom tomatoes with stracciatella). I am a big fan of Beekist ‘Chef’s Selection’ tomatoes, which are cheap, colourful and delicious. But when I’m feeling extravagant, I go for Curious Croppers.
I first became curious about Curious Cropper tomatoes when restaurants I went to started mentioning them by name on the menu. Then at a dinner party where everyone had gone all out, I was told by a friend with a proud smile, “these are Curious Cropper tomatoes”. When I went to check out Little Culprit , Jordan and Kyle specified that they use Curious Cropper tomatoes.
They’re available at Farro (where else would you find Gucci-level tomatoes?) and cost a fancy-dinner-parties-only $5.99 per punnet, or you can buy larger individual tomatoes at various prices – but trust me, you can taste the extra value.
They’re consistently juicy and firm. Each colour has a different balance of tartness and sweetness. There are red ones, of course, but also plenty of oranges, yellows and greens, as well as the occasional rusty brown one, or one with light red-brown stripes, shot through with red that looks like a hard-boiled lolly. Each colour is a slightly different flavour. The red ones are tart, brown are richly tomatoey, green are sweet and yellow are fragrant and taste a bit like honey.
I especially enjoy that variance. They’re a diverse platter in and of themselves; different from bite to bite. You can eat a plate of only tomatoes and not be bored. And honestly, if you have yet to embrace varied tomatoes, I am very jealous of the discovery you and your lucky little tastebuds are about to make.