The perfectly red tomatoes above look a lot like bite-size grape tomatoes, don’t they? They’re actually miniature San Marzano tomatoes grown by Village Farms, a huge greenhouse and hydroponic company with facilities all over North America. Village Farms worked with a seed company to create what they’ve trademarked as the Heavenly Villagio Marzano,” which they claim is an authentic San Marzano tomato in a miniature size.
San Marzano tomatoes have rock star status among Italian food lovers. (For more about Italian food, check out Gourmet Live’s latest issue on Italy.) It’s considered the tomato for tomato sauce, and the fruit—yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit—grown near the town of San Marzano in the rich volcanic soil of the Sarno Valley (thanks to nearby Mt. Vesuvius) gets the European Union Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) status. If you’ve spent any time in the canned tomato aisle of a supermarket, you’ve seen the labels for San Marzano.
Village Farms introduced their fresh mini San Marzano tomatoes a year ago, and I’m amazed it took that long for them to show up at my neighborhood supermarket. Cute zippered bags of them suddenly appeared in the produce section last week. According to the Village Farm website, the Heavenly Villagio Marzano is being marketed as a healthy snack, to be eaten raw. Continue reading