Whether they're reduced in a ragù, sliced and served with a ball of burrata, or in a sauce for pizza, tomatoes are at their peak right now, in late-summer. Celebrate this versatile vegetable at Sydney's two-day Tomato Festival, which returns for the fourth year to the Royal Botanic Gardens on 18-19 February, with a program filled with cooking demonstrations, talks, produce stalls and a communal banquet.
While last year's theme was chilli-infused cooking, this year it's about pairing ruby ripe tomatoes with herbs. Learn how to make proper passata in Italian chef Luca Ciano's masterclass, find out Cornersmith's top tips and tricks for pickling, or pop by the produce market for tomato relishes, chutneys and more from local producers like Donna Does and Pepe Saya.
The jewel of the festival, however, will be the annual Longest Tomato Lunch, held across a 70-metre long communal table. Held on both the Saturday and Sunday, expect gazpacho, tomato-braised chicken with chilli and eggplant, as well as a slightly confusing coconut quinoa cream and salsa dessert.
Or, if your love for oxheart knows no bounds, the festival's debut Pomme D'Amour Lovers' Dinner on Friday 17 February is one to book. A candle-lit, three-course, tomato-driven meal will be served overlooking the harbour.
While entry to the festival is free, the Longest Tomato Lunch is $94 for two people, and the Lovers' Dinner begins at $185 for two, with additional romantic extras. To book, or for more information, visit rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/Visit/tomato-festival.