Peanut Butter Sandwich Day

Open faced and ready to eat

Open faced and ready to eat

As a younger person, I never grasped the concept of comfort food. For me, food fell into only two categories – things I liked and things I didn’t.  And the categorization was complicated – one might assume that peanut butter was in one category or another, but it wasn’t.  A piece of bread, spread thick with the smooth and creamy nut butter was something likeable unless it was it was folded in half (or topped with more bread), in which case I didn’t like it. No, not one bit.

I can still remember my poor father’s baffled expression when I wouldn’t eat the snack that only moments before I had noisily craved.  What he didn’t understand was that there was a vast difference between a peanut butter sandwich and what I called a peanut butter top. And so, when he enacted the dreadful fold, the craving died and the luster was off the nut – as I’m certain he thought I was off my nut, too.

I couldn’t explain it.  It just was – might as well ask me why I have a big toe.  I just do.

As a grown person, I don’t have that particular obsession anymore, well, not in the same degree.  Nowadays, peanut butter sandwiches have zero appeal without jelly, but I retain an admittedly strange obsession with canapes and other foods served open-faced.  And there is nothing that catches my heart, appetite, and eye quite like an open faced cookie.  For it was the thumbprint cookie that revealed not only why I turned my countenance from Daddy’s sandwich but also transformed my inexplicable obsession into explicable reason.

At least to my mind.

My mother was fond of sandwich cookies – Vienna fingers or vanilla creams were a constant and welcome presence in the pantry.  But there was one day, a glorious and epiphanous day, when some kind and generous soul gifted mother with a bag of Pepperidge Farm Strawberry thumbprint cookies.

Almost Finished

Almost Finished

Oh joyous day – every obsessive nerve in my little body quivered – here was the peanut butter top of cookies, and it had jam.  JAM!  But most importantly it was then that I knew! I knew why the peanut butter top was essential, and the peanut butter sandwich was vile.  It was at the first moment of biting that cookie when I understood that the open face always smelled better and! And! AND! the impression of the first bite was not dominated by the bread or the cookie but was shared equally with the always magnificent, always delightful filling!

First impressions DO matter.

More important than my own epiphany, now my poor father would feel the sting of my refusal less keenly!  He would understand, as I understood, that my rejection of the sandwich was a textural and olfactive thing and not some oedipal grudge.  And he would no longer think that I was off my nut.

Alas, fathers, like children, I suppose, don’t always act like we want them to do– even 45 years later my dad remains uncertain about my sanity.  But I know – and that’s enough.

And while my affection for peanut butter has changed significantly, there are two things that have become essential truth in my eating life: One is that peanut butter is always better with jelly; the other, good food with good open faced presentation is the road to Nirvana. And thumbprint cookies are the fast lane.

Sunday, April 2nd is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day.  You may celebrate with a sandwich if you must, or you can really put the hammer down by making Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies.  Mahasti has provided a recipe below – and will show you how easy it is to celebrate in open-faced style on WBIR’s Weekend Today.

And while baking these cookies and celebrating food holidays may only affirm your family’s worry that you’re off your nut, they’ll be grateful that you’re tasteful about it.

Flour Head Bakery’s Peanut Butter and Jelly thumbprint cookies

Ground Peanuts:

The batter ready for scooping

The batter ready for scooping

½ cup unsalted, roasted peanuts ground fine

1/3 cup granulated sugar

Place peanuts in the bowl of a food processor and grind until fine.  Place peanuts in a bowl, add sugar and set aside.

For the cookie:

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

¾ cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 Tablespoons whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

Rolling along.

Rolling along.

Place butter in bowl of stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment.  Add sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add egg and mix until well combined.  Add vanilla and milk and mix well.  In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture and mix until all the flour is mixed in.  Place the cookie dough in the refrigerator for an hour.  Remove the dough and scoop into balls.  Roll the dough balls in the ground peanut mixture and place 1.5 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven, allow the cookies to cool for 1 minute, then gently press your thumb in the middle.  Spoon a small amount of your favorite jam in the imprint and serve.

Makes 20 – 24 1 inch cookies.

 

National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver

If you were to scroll back through past posts of this blog, you’d find that we have a lot of fun with National food days.  We celebrate them, we make fun of them, and sometimes we make fun of ourselves for celebrating them.  And we’re still not sure of who even creates them.  Even so, we plug along, dutifully checking our calendars to see whether or not it’s time to celebrate National Lima Bean Respect Day.

But a few of these holidays call to mind subjects that are richer or more important than the day itself.  Today for example is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day and, while we love peanut butter – and our pie proves it – it’s a good day to remember the life and work of George Washington Carver who, though he did not invent peanut butter, was the original Peanut Promoter Extraordinaire.

If you don’t know Carver’s story, we can’t think of a better time to learn more about it: it’s one of those stories that might never have been – just because of its very beginning.

Carver was born into slavery around 1864 in Diamond Grove, Missouri and, after his mother, Mary, disappeared, presumably kidnapped by slave traders who still roamed the South at that time. George, an infant at the time of Mary’s disappearance, was raised by Moses and Susan Carver – the same folks who had owned his mother before she vanished.

George was a sickly child and unfit for the kind of hard labor that many freed slaves endured after the war; so he stayed close to home learning domestic chores and tending the garden.  He developed an interest in plants, and the Carvers provided him with some education – both of which would come to define much of Carver’s life.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Iowa State Agricultural College in 1894 and in 1896 completed a graduate degree with intensive work in plant pathology.  Carver established a reputation as a brilliant botanist which would lead him to work for Booker T. Washington at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute where he would head the agricultural department.

That’s such a simple paragraph to write, but the truth is a complex thing, made especially so by the always difficult, often fatal challenges that followed former slaves in the years after the War.

Among those challenges, there were some that were shared by impoverished Southerners of all stripes – including the

The Humble Peanut

The Humble Peanut

creation of a sustainable lifestyle.  Carver’s work and studies in crop rotation and alternative cash crops to cotton at Tuskegee substantially improved the lives of farmers and sharecroppers all over the South.  But it’s his work with the humble peanut that really sticks in the mind – famously, Carver discovered over 300 uses for the crop which also acted as a rejuvenator for fields ravaged by nutrient depleting cotton.

Among Carver’s nutty discoveries – well, there was shoe polish, goiter treatment, and laundry soap, but there were over 100 food uses that included cookies, cake and pie crust, too.  And there were savory recipes including peanut sausage and a peanut and cheese roast – we’ve included those recipes below, but you can read all of them at this Texas A&M site.

So what if somebody else invented peanut paste or as we know it now, peanut butter?  George Washington Carver was one hell of a contributor to the American Dream, and his work improved the quality of countless lives – we barely do his memory justice here.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Carver’s work made peanuts an indelible and enriching part of Southern life – I’d say that’s worth celebrating over a piece of our Peanut Butter pie anyway – how about you?

Happy Peanut Butter Lover’s Day!

 

 

 

42, PEANUT SAUSAGE

Grind 1/2 pound of roasted peanuts, 1/2 pound pecans, 1 ounce hickory nuts, and 1/2 pound walnut meats. Mix with six very ripe bananas; pack in a mould, and steam continuously for two hours; when done remove from lid of kettle or mould, and when mixture is cold turn out and serve the same as roast meat sliced thin for sandwiches, or with cold tomato sauce or other sauce.

43, PEANUT AND CHEESE ROAST

1 cup grated cheese

1 cup bread crumbs

1 teaspoon chopped onion

1 cup finely ground peanuts

1 tablespoon butter

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the onion in the butter and a little water until it is tender. Mix the other ingredients, and moisten with water, using the water in which the onion has been cooked. Pour into a shallow -baking dish, and brown in oven.

National Dessert Day

Words, as anyone who has said bumfuzzle aloud can tell you, are funny.  How they came to be and where they came from can be amusing when not just strange.

Chocolate Cupcakes

For many of us dessert means chocolate

Consider dessert – as, of course, we hope you often do- that word comes from a French word, dessevir, meaning to remove what has been served or, easier on the tongue, to clear away the table.  In fact in the third person desservir takes on a familiar form: il dessert (or he clears away). Which isn’t particularly funny if you haven’t finished your dessert before he clears it away. Sacre bleu!  What a tragedy that would be.

Other folks say that the meaning of desservir is more akin to “un-serve”.  Which, in dessert parlance, is the worst thought ever.  Who would have a heart black enough to un-serve dessert?

Of course, no one we know, especially not the French, would un-serve dessert or take post prandial candy from babies of any age, but as we celebrate National Dessert Day it seems worthwhile to linger over our coffee and consider the vagaries surrounding the sweet spot of the meal.

I grew up in a home with lots of sweets, but not many desserts.  That is to say that we rarely had a final course to the meal; cookies and milk might come later, but they were never served at the table.  It was a rare and special occasion when Mom would have something sweet that we would eat together after dinner. Usually it arrived in a footed, faceted dessert cup which I have forever since associated with chocolate pudding (my favorite treat from back in the day).  It was an indulgence that never got old because it never came too often – so you couldn’t get used to it or take it for granted.  It was mother’s whim and a delight.

TH_winter014_54

….or chocolate chip, of course

That’s why, perhaps, to this day dessert remains a completely separate experience from grabbing a quick bite of cookie.  The very idea is a comfort – just think of clearing the table for a last sweet moment of communion over a bit of food that you can enjoy in small bites thus facilitating the especially fine conversation that comes from the good mood of the well fed.

Because it is more than nourishment, and follows essential eating, dessert contributes to the feeling that life is good.  Whenever I feel discontent or worried about the budget or the Jones’ new car, I remind myself that in the grand scheme of things I’m a rich man.  I have food daily and dessert often.

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….but fruity is nice too

Dessert’s pretty special at The Tomato Head – it’s made with the same care and careful selection of ingredients as everything we serve.  And, thanks to the delectable work of Flour Head Bakery, our dessert case is almost an embarrassment of riches, and one that’s accessible, too.  What good is a wealth of sweet stuff unless you can share it?  We take pains to make sure that our vegan and gluten free options are as appetizing to the eye and as scrumptious to the tongue as every other treat we serve.  And, as a general rule, we’d never un-serve dessert – we’re just good like that.

Happy National Dessert Day!  Be sweet to someone you love – or even someone you don’t: a little sugar goes a long way…

Pumpkin Spice Day

Perhaps it’s best if you’re sitting.

The shock may be too much for you – but fear not, there is a warm and fuzzy place that we can help you find, one that will make it all better, so stay with us…

Perhaps it will come as no surprise to you that there is an actual Pumpkin Spice Day.  The autumnal flavor seems to have taken over our world in a way that Frank Herbert fans will understand.  (Nerd alert!) Like the mélange spice/drug of the planet Arrakis, also known as DUNE, Pumpkin Spice is everywhere now.  It has even reached Little Debbie, and I suspect that Collegedale (the home of the snack cake giant) is covered in a fine dust of suspicious, orange tint.

But what may strike you as odd, perhaps even somehow wrong and wickedly disturbing is that where there is Pumpkin Spice, there may not be actual Pumpkin.  I know, I know – it’s a terrible thought, and it’s one that leaves me reeling and wondering what will be left of the real and the natural order of things.  When the very air is full of spice, when it infuses our lattes, fills our cereal bowls, and even clings to our almonds without a trace of the Big Orange Squash that single-handedly created the spice’s fame, well, the Great Chain of Being has broken into more pieces than Humpty Dumpty.  And the world seems less right than before.

“But, but…” you sputter in shock, “Pumpkin Spice delights are often orange!  Surely, surely that’s from real pumpkin!”  Alas, that most delightful of all the colors, orange, is often simulated by the addition of annatto and paprika.

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Will the Real Pumpkin Please Stand?

It’s easy to understand, even if it hurts the head to ponder; in much of processed food, it’s flavor or the simulation thereof that matters most.  Actual ingredients be damned, as long as it tastes right, looks right or is at least close enough, then all is well.  You may know people who actually prefer the fakers – like that strange group of folks who prefer the taste of banana Popsicle to the taste of an actual banana.

Okay, so that’s unfair – pumpkin spice is a real enough mélange of nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, ginger and allspice, but on its own it’s really just spice.  It could be spice cake spice, molasses cookie spice – heck, it’s only a couple of ingredients away from being garam masala spice.  We need pumpkin to make it right.

We’re not trying to rain on anyone’s parade or throw shade on your seasonally affected flavor favor.  Far from it – we have a safe place for you at the restaurant, a place where Pumpkin Spice lives in harmony as it should with the Great Pumpkin who is real and present in every bite.  For this national day of observance, this Pumpkin Spice Day, we have Pumpkin Spice Morning Rolls that will warm up your nose and your heart for a full day of spiced remembrance.  We’ll also have Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes to sweeten all the memories that come with the smell and flavor of this sweet squash and spice blend – memories of home baked treats and family gatherings where paprika stays safely on the deviled eggs.

Happy Pumpkin Spice Day – come and see us.

National Bacon Lover’s Day

August 20th is a subtle food holiday.  Whereas most of the time we’re celebrating a particular thing we love to eat, this day honors those who do the eating.  And while we’re certainly all about lifting people up, it just doesn’t seem right to give bacon lovers, of all people, their own holiday.  After all, they revel in the joy of eating every time they sit down to their favorite treat – an official recognition smacks of indulgence or perhaps a little insider trading.  Bacon enthusiasts are very well placed – even, we’re told, among the illuminati.

Perhaps it’s too much to assume that there’s a secret society at work – after all, there is no arcane knowledge about the food.  It announces its presence boldly with rampant assaults on the olfactory bulb that travel to the brain like wild fire to enflame craving and ignite desire.   As far as I can tell, babies with candy are safe, but little ones with bacon are sure to be without it soon.

Of course, this part of the world is particularly subject to bacon love owing to our proximity to the center of the known bacon universe.  Our charming neighbor to the south, Madisonville, may seem like a quiet place, but it’s a hotbed of bacon agitation and the home of many, very smoky revels.  Benton’s Bacon is one of the most odiferous examples of this already odiferous edible, and it acts on the average person’s nose in much the same way that the sirens’ call ensnared sailors of ancient seas.

If you consider the subject carefully, bacon love is really more cult-like than anything as it lures even the strongest of hearts into its web of longing; there’s a good chance that Meatless Monday has been thwarted more by bacon than anything else.  Still, some of our favorite people are ensnared by this compelling food obsession – even folks we call family – so we tolerate this obsession and do our darnedest to love them the best we can.

Given the nature of this love that not only dares to speak its name but proclaims it loudly, one wonders if the purpose of the holiday isn’t so to acclaim the bacon lover but, instead, to call attention to their plight.

Regardless, as far as we can tell there’s no cure for this food affliction until the afflicted themselves have had enough.  And until that day, we do our best to treat them well and make sure that the bacon they get is at least of good quality, acquired legally, and not taken out of the mouths of babes.

As for Tomato Head, admittedly we’re enablers.  Really big enablers.  We serve Benton’s Bacon as an a la carte brunch option, a topping for salad and pizza, and as an essential part of the “OH!” in our Oh Boy sandwich.  All bacon has excellent crunch potential, but Benton’s takes that texture an extra step and becomes both crunchy and softly yielding in the same bite.

Allan Benton in the Smokehouse (image by smokeymountaineer)

And then there’s the fact that Mr. Benton delivers a smoking that permeates not just the bacon but the entire dish – sometimes the whole room – suffusing it with flavor and memories, too.  Just the smell of this bacon ignites bonfires of glory days long past, fireplaces filled with crackling flames and romance, and campfires redolent with comfort, bonding and adventure.  Even its appearance recalls the memory-laden, failing autumn light, a dusk horizon streaked with shades of umber, ochre and Sienna.  But edible.  Really edible.

While naturally, WE do not suffer from bacon obsession, we understand and sympathize with those who do.  Thus we raise rashers to those who love the bacon on this their special day.  And though it’s easy to malign the bacon-addled, today we encourage you to show love and tolerance and to embrace them even if their hands are greasy and their breath, smoky.

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

The oddity of food holidays, who decides what food gets a special designation and the odd times that those days appear in the calendar of celebrated comestibles is a common and whimsical lament in our blog. But this particular day, Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, is no mystery to us – among these fanciful food fetes, this particular festivity makes perfect sense.

Unlike most popular foods, the Chocolate Chip Cookie has an identifiable lineage – its creator and its rise to popularity are known quantities.  Arguably it is the Great American Cookie and, during World War II, for many soldiers, it was America in one semi-sweet bite.

Restaurateur Ruth Wakefield created the cookie as an accompaniment to ice cream to serve in the Toll House restaurant that she ran with her husband in Whitman, Massachusetts.  There are any number of myths about how the semi-sweet chocolate landed in the cookie dough, but it was most likely the result of planned recipe development.  (You can read more on the subject in Carolyn Wyman’s, “Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book.”)

The cookie famously caught the attention of Marjorie Husted (Betty Crocker) and then Nestle, and then the nation.  All of this was happening in the 1930’s in the midst of the Great Depression, when a single bite of richness was an indulgence extraordinaire.  I’m no scholar or psychologist of history, but I suspect that the cookie came to represent everything that Americans held dear about their country as a land of plenty, of hope, of shared opportunity and prosperity.  Whatever it was, this cookie became an essential morale booster and taste of home as it found its way into mess kits and gift packages for soldiers who crossed the oceans blue to fight fascism and oppression and, thus, earned a special place in the pantheon of American icons.

TH_winter014_54Today, we take the cookie for granted, and toss its name around without regard to quality.  Just walk down the grocery cookie aisle and you’ll find hundreds of hard little discs called chocolate chip cookie.  Some are better than others, and a few might achieve greatness – I don’t know about all those cookies.  What I do know is that nothing touches the special longing of my inner cookie monster like a rich, made-with-love-by-real-bakers kind of Chocolate Chip Cookie.

At the Tomato Head we’re committed to cookie equality for all, so when we do chocolate chip we do it in all sorts of ways for all sorts of people.

Of course we serve a good old-fashioned cookie made from a traditional recipe that comes loaded with chocolate chips in a rich brown sugar batter that will transport you to the long-gone days of sneaking bits of dough from wooden mixing spoons in Grandma’s kitchen.  That goodness also pervades our Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie and our Vegan recipe, too; both of which give the same kind of memory thrill and homey flavor that comes from our original recipe.

But if you’re really celebrating the day, then you may want to engage in the great American pastime of making the good even better by trying a bite of our Triple Chocolate Chip Cookie.  The first bite and delicate crunch of this chocolate bomb gives way to a gooey, brownie-like center that bursts with a perfect medley of milk chocolate, white chocolate, and semi-sweet chips.  And if you’re feeling really excitable, go ahead and grab a “Rock Your World” cookie which combines chocolate chips with walnuts for a big mouthful of happiness.

Today, throw caution to the wind and grab a friend for a cookie date.  It’s a tasty way to show some love and treat yourself to a little bite of American history – and there’s enough diversity in our Chocolate Chip Cookie selection to make everyone feel great!

National Sugar Cookie Day

If the sugar cookie could talk, I suspect it would express some bashful surprise at the fact that we honor, even celebrate, it.  The often pale and unadorned sweet might even blush to know that we toast its very existence today on National Sugar Cookie Day.

The Sugar Cookie, at least as we most often like it, appears as a simple treat made of ordinary ingredients that’s sometimes finished with an ordinary glaze, perhaps with a bit of color or, in a fit of holiday madness, there might be a jazzy sprinkle of brightly hued sugar that, like a festive hat, bedecks the cookie for a fete.

But even when the cookie takes on a less than modest appearance, as a star shape or perhaps in the form of a snowman, a tree, or a Santa cap, the fact of its transformation remains rooted in the simplicity of its making.  The simple dough is easy to cut and shape, and so bakers who lived long before the first cookie cutter could easily customize their baking.  Sometimes simplicity promotes longevity.

One of the earliest American examples of this sugary disk, the Nazareth Cookie (now installed as the official cookie of Pennsylvania) was created by Moravians in Nazareth, PA.  It’s not much more than sugar, flour, eggs, butter, leavening, and, maybem salt and was a part of a tradition of simple recipes for jumbal, jamble, jemelloe, or gemmel cookies that date beyond the 17th century – perhaps as long ago as 7th century Persia.  The popularity of the style cookie grew from its longevity – they could be cooked until they were dry and, admittedly, tough enough to handle a long journey.  It may be that, like some of your ancestors, the sugar cookie’s sires came over on the Mayflower.

Variations on the cookie became matters of pride – that’s certainly true in the South where the simple cookie morphed into the stately tea cake.  But even with an elevated name the cookie remained a relatively simple recipe – so much so that even the poorest larders might stock the ingredients to create tea cake for special occasions.  There are some culinary historians who opine that the sugar cookie or tea cake was one of the few holiday solaces that might grace a slave’s table in America.

It’s surprising, perhaps, to the modern palate with its cravings for flavor fireworks assuaged only by a multiplicity of radical tastes that the sugar cookie can have lasted so long.  And yet in its earliest incarnation, the cookie would have cajoled even the most jaded hipster palate.  Often English jumbals were touched by exotic spices like caraway, cardamom, anise or perhaps rosewater.  Sometimes they weren’t even what we might call sweet.

For such a simple recipe, the sugar cookie bears a complex array of culinary and social history:  the cultivation of sugar and the establishment of a spice trade mingle with joy, sadness, the travails of forced labor and slavery, religious oppression, the founding of a nation along with some stabs at utopia along the way.

This food celebration comes with much to contemplate – there’s a lot of history in this cookie.   So it’s best to start eating right now.  Happy Sugar Cookie Day – we hope it’s a sweet one.

Trifecta of Food Holidays

3 is a magical number.  In Roman and Chinese systems, it’s one of the few numbers that’s written with as many strokes as the number represents.  It’s a significant number to Christians, Hindus, Pagans, and Pythagoras, too. In less consecrated  ways, those who fancy a flutter on the gee-gees on Derby Day or anytime Keeneland is open have the option of betting Trifectas – a challenging but profitable prediction of the order of first, second and THIRD place winners.

Even cultural superstitions are pervaded by the number – third on a match dies, celebrities die in trios, and the third time is a charm.

Although we’re not especially superstitious, nor particularly wont to wager, as we consider the number 3 alongside our immediate future, it becomes clear that the prognosis is good, bright, and perhaps even wondrous.  We might even play the numbers.

May 13, 14 and 15 constitute a Trifecta of taste, practically a Tomato Head triduum, which celebrates three of the foods that are dear to our heart and hunger.  First comes National Hummus Day, followed by Buttermilk Biscuit Day, and finally Chocolate Chip Cookie Day.  Can you imagine a better way to celebrate the middle of the lusty month of May?

Hummus remains one of our most popular offerings in and out of our restaurants – you can find it on the shelves of 14 area grocery stores (you can see where here).  Our blend of pureed chick peas, tahini and (sort of) secret seasonings is a wholesome and tasty snack that makes a lot of sense for today’s diet – it tastes great, it’s packed with protein, and, best of all, it’s made by your neighbors.  If you have yet to spread hummus on a sandwich or tortilla come on down to see us on May 13th, and we’ll happily show you how it’s done.  Heck, come any day – Roger Roger and Lucy are just hanging out on the sandwich menu waiting to meet you, while Jose Jose Burrito practically pines for your attention on this special day.

Lucky for us all, May 14, better known as National Buttermilk Biscuit Day, falls on a Saturday this year, so you don’t have to postpone your party.  You can celebrate on schedule at brunch when we have a little bit of biscuit heaven available right here on earth.  We talked about the noble biscuit and shared the best biscuit recipe, too, in this blog entry from September.  Still it’s worth remembering that biscuits are not just an important part of a good southern diet, they make for a party day extraordinaire in Knoxville.  We serve our biscuits in classic fashion with gravy galore, but you can also really throw down with our option to top the biscuit with scrambled eggs, Sweetwater valley smoked cheddar, our housemade breakfast gravy & your choice of either ham, Benton’s bacon, chorizo, housemade soysage, or baked tofu.

Finally, you can wrap up this exceptional trio of tasty days with national Chocolate Chip Cookie Day which, as you may have gathered, falls on Sunday Fun Day.  For Tomato Head, this day holds a lot of significance – not just because of our inner cookie monster but because we can share the day with so many people.  It’s a good day for us to reflect on the value of having Flour Head Bakery in our lives because they give us three kinds of chocolate chip cookies including the traditional recipe along with options for both the Vegan and the Gluten Sensitive folks that we love.

The great thing about this trifecta is that the bets always pay off. And if you’re superstitious, the only thing bad that ever happened to the third person on a cookie is that they had to ask for another cookie.

So, party on.  And if you aren’t inclined to party like a rock star, you can certainly eat like a king. Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

 

National Grilled Cheese Day

In my personal pantheon of comfort foods, a grilled cheese ranks in the top tier of edible idols. And, despite the legion of silly food holidays, this sammie not only warrants a national day of observance, it really ought to have its own month.  It’s a particularly cozy comestible because it begins so simply with an irresistible combination of pantry standards that, when treated to a special kind of love in a frying pan or on a griddle, turn into magic: gooey, melted cheese and good bread made better by the unmistakable crunch that comes of frying it in butter.  This remarkable combination of flavor and texture make it one of the great joys of eating – especially when paired with a rich tomato soup that you can dunk your sandwich in.

The only downside to the sandwich is that the grilled cheese is all too often shunted over to the kids’ menu. And believe you me, it takes great fortitude and a mighty will for a person of a certain age to order from the kids’ menu under the glare of a disapproving server (and even some unsympathetic spouses), whose eyes smolder with an unspoken injunction, “Oh, please, grow up!”

In most cases, I’m immune to people throwing shade over my cravings but, here, not so much.  I love kids as much as the next person, and I don’t mind sharing a grilled cheese with children; but they hardly merit having it all to themselves.  Besides, bread and cheese are among life’s most sustaining joys – I’m pretty sure that you could live off of that combination alone.  I’m certain I could.  And judging from the world’s many essential foods that consist mostly of bread and cheese, I’m not alone.  Whether it’s an Italian panino, a South African Braaibroodjie, French Croque Monsieur or an English Toastie, the grilled cheese’s many incarnations are vast and vital, delicious and decidedly grown up.

Although I’m not always in agreement with the urge to update or improve every classic dish in the cooking canon, the sheer number of possible combinations of bread and cheese along with the wealth of foods that meld and melt perfectly between them make it impossible to remain a purist about the grilled cheese.

So, in celebration, the restaurant is going full tilt on the indulgence scale for a sandwich built for the happy adult.  Today, which is National Grilled Cheese Day, we’re serving a special combination of Montery Jack, bacon jam, apple chutney, gritz, and crumbled potato chips (yep, you read that correctly) all on delicious Flour Head 100% whole wheat bread.    It’s an explosion of everything that we love about the sandwich, from intense flavor to hearty texture, which we’re certain will make you glad you got up and out today.

And what’s more, we’ll celebrate again on Thursday with even more Monterey Jack on whole wheat but this time topped with red pepper pesto and roasted kale.

Of course, if you’re really celebrating, you’ll want a cup of good soup; and for that we recommend our Tomato Chipotle soup, which is now available every day.   It’s a rich potage with a lively kick of chipotle’s smoky spice and a smooth but hearty texture that makes it a prime candidate for expert sandwich dunking, which, as far as I can tell, is a life skill that only fully develops in the adult of our species.

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design