Wednesday, July 17, 2013

hot and hot fish club: tomato salad

There are few things I crave more than Hot and Hot Fish Club's tomato salad. Everything about it embodies summer goodness. (In fact, Chef/Owner Chris Hastings describes the dish as "summer on a plate.") Ahhhh, I'm craving it just thinking about it now.


Part of the tomato salad's beauty is the fact that you can only order it during the summer. Chef Hastings (who won the James Beard Award "Best Chef in the South" in 2012) uses local, fresh ingredients so the tomato salad only hits the menu when tomatoes are perfectly in season -- and not a day before. In fact, a few years ago, I called and asked when the salad would be on the menu. The staff member I spoke to said they hoped to have it that Friday. I made my reservation, showed up expectantly, and was greeted with the unfortunate news that Chef Hastings felt the tomatoes still weren't up to par... I'd have to wait another week. 

Chef Hastings puts the finishing touches on a Tomato Salad with Bayou La Batre Shrimp 

The salad usually shows up on the menu in early May, but Chef Hastings has to use nearby Florida tomatoes until Alabama tomatoes ripen up in June. The tomato salad stays on the menu through September when tomato season says farewell until next year. If you've never had this salad, it's worth making a trip to Birmingham, AL to try it (plus, if you're a foodie, B'ham has so many great spots you can make a "food trip" out of the weekend). 

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