Tomato, Tomato, and Tomato Again at L’Avant-Comptoir

As many of you know, we live right down the street from Yves Camdeborde’s terrific restaurant, Le Comptoir, and it’s baby sister, the wine bar, L’Avant-Comptoir, which has become our home-away-from-home.  It’s too irresistible not to jump in for a quick hello and a drink, a snack or a lunch.  And while I’ve been in several times since I got here, it was on our inaugural visit that Dai, one of the cooks/countermen, greeted us with a glass of clear, cool liquid in a couple of strands of basil were floating.  We didn’t ask what it was and after the first sip we didn’t need to – the taste was big and sure: tomato!  Specifically it was tomato water, the clear, bursting-with-flavor liquid you get when you drain tomato pulp leisurely.  (Here’s how you do it.)

The tomato water was surprising, refreshing and delicious, but it wasn’t until we were about to leave that I thought to ask Dai what he did with the rest of the tomato, since he’d told me that he used just the innards of the tomato – the seeds and jellyish pulp – to make the water.

He reached into the fridge and pulled out a container of tomates confites (pieces of slowly roasted tomato) and then he said, “Stay a minute and I’ll show you what else I did.”  And a minute later he produced the tomato dish you see in the photo:  Fried tomato skins!  Here, drizzled ever so lightly with olive oil and finished with a pinch of fleur de sel.

Of course they were great.  And of course they were another reminder of kitchen thrift – a very delicious reminder.

Dorie Greenspan

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