It’s time to master homemade passata. On Sunday February 21, the annual celebration of Italian food and sustainable-food culture, Melbourne Tomato Festival returns to Edendale Farm in Eltham.
“There will be a farmers’ market at the festival. People can talk directly to the farmers and see what they’re growing,” says chef and restaurateur, Guy Grossi, who organises the festival with his sister, Liz Rodriguez.
As well as Grossi, Karen Martini, Scott Pickett, Colin Fassnidge and other prolific chefs and food writers will be in attendance. There will be talks on sustainable food choices and cooking demonstrations, including one on how to make Bloody Caesars (a lesser-known Canadian cousin to the Bloody Mary. It uses clam juice). There will be classes on making mozzarella, beekeeping, butchery and even making your own wood-fired oven.
You’ll learn that choosing the right tomato is all about the colour and feel. As Grossi says, “You have to feel the springiness and the softness of the tomato; it can’t be too soft, nor can it be too firm.”
In picking out the preferred Roma or San Marzano tomatoes for the passata, you want to know where the tomatoes were grown, and most importantly, you want nice, ripe, and juicy tomatoes to really bring your passata to life. Otherwise, the whole process of making passata is rather straight forward – as you’ll find from the seven passata-making workshops happening throughout the day.
Melbourne Tomato Festival is on this Sunday February 21 at Edendale Farm, 30 Gastons Road, Eltham. Adult tickets $25; child (6–13yrs) $10. Children five and under are free entry.