Tomato Festival: The Oval Room

Tomato Panna Cotta pyramid

After all the talk at the Republican Convention of America First, nothing hits the spot better than celebrating the quintessential American fruit or vegetable as it ripens on the vine: tomatoes.

Washington DC’s Knightsbridge Restaurant Group’s annual Tomato Festival is a great place to start. It runs through August 11th at the group’s eight restaurants with tomatoes grown locally by eco-friendly farmer, Jay Faucher. According to their press release: 701 Restaurant, Ardeo + Bardeo, nopa Kitchen + Bar, Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca and The Oval Room are rolling out tomato-centric, three-course menus with tempting choices of appetizers, entrees and desserts. The special tasting menus will be available during both lunch and dinner service, while The Bombay Club, Rasika, and Rasika and West End will offer a daily special tomato dish featured at lunch and dinner.

Super Chef was impressed by the range of tomato dishes, including this wonderfully refreshing Panna Cotta from The Oval Room’s Chef John Melfi. Let the recipe tempt you to take a break the news and dine out on tomatoes:

Roasted Tomato Panna Cotta, Red Wine Sorbet, Rye Croutons

3-5 portions depending on the mold that you use.

1-cup heavy
1/2-cup milk
1/4-cup sugar
3 ounces of fresh tomato puree
3 tbs tomato paste
2 each sheets of bronze gelatin or 3/4 of a tablespoon of powdered gelatin
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt

Special Equipment:
Fine Mesh Strainer

Method of Preparation:

Start by measuring out all your ingredients separately. Combine the cream, the milk, and the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the vanilla, tomato juice and tomato paste until fully incorporated. Meanwhile, soak gelatin in cold water for 5-10 minutes. Then, add the bloomed gelatin. Strain the mixture through the fine mess strainer into a measuring cup. Fill each mold with the mixture. Then, cover with plastic wrap and place the molds in the refrigerator until set. You can store the filled molds in the freezer for up to two weeks.


½- cup water
½- cup sugar
½- bottle of your favorite red wine, preferably something big and fruity
1 ½- cup fresh raspberry’s or blackberries

Method of Preparation:

In a sauce pan, bring the sugar, water, and the red wine to a light boil and boil for five minutes to cook off most of the alcohol. Pull the saucepan off the heat and add the fresh berries and let the mixture steep for one hour. Then puree the mixture lightly and strain. Chill the mixure and then follow the instruction of your ice cream maker to freeze the mixture.

For the rye croutons you will need a good loaf of rye bread. Tear the bread into uniformed pieces toss in EVOO and bake in a 200 Degree oven until crunchy, about 2 hours.

Plate the dish:
Unmold the panna cotta on each plate. Scatter rye croutons on a plate and top with scoops of red wine sorbet. Garnish with edible flowers.

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