Eight years ago for Easter my family traveled to a rural Spanish village to celebrate with friends. My mother's college roommate had married a Spaniard, and the white washed campo, La Loma, in the hills of Andalucia, had become a meeting spot of sorts.
Standing out against the stunted silhouettes of olive orchards and barren crags, the adobe home and its outdoor living space became our holiday. It was simple, rustic, and elegant at once, surrounded by red earth and wisened fruit.
I rose late one morning to find breakfast already set out on the picnic table in the courtyard. A decanter of olive oil sat surrounded by long halves of toasted baguette, a bowl of freshly grated tomatoes, and a finger bowl of sea salt. A lone clove of garlic sat on every plate.
I watched my host rub the clove vigorously over the surface of his bread as I found my way into a chair. My father did the same, soaking the bread with a dash of olive oil and spreading the red tomatoes across the top. A bit of sea salt finished the preparation, and he bit in, tore the bread, and shot me a smile.
We ate the Mediterranean breakfast every day for the rest of the trip. When we returned home, however, the luscious tomatoes of Spanish spring were nowhere to be found, and I tucked away the dish as a memory for July.
It wasn't until last year that I remembered those Easter breakfasts. When the tomatoes began pouring in from the gardens of neighbors and friends, I headed into town for a baguette and a good bottle of olive oil. In the kitchen, I rearranged the dish to my own tastes: thicker chunks of tomato, a bit less oil, and several sprigs of rosemary sprinkled over top. While the fruit lasted, we ate it every morning.
This week my Early Girl began producing in earnest, bringing the first over abundance of tomatoes from the garden. I pulled into a bakery, picked up a loaf of day old baguette, and the tradition commenced for another August.
PAN TOSTADO CON TOMATE Y ACEITE
Finely dice 4-6 tomatoes (roughly 3 cups). In a wide serving bowl, mix with 1/3 cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary. Set out a finger bowl of sea salt and peel one clove garlic per person. Serve garlic on plate beside several pieces toast. Rub toast with garlic, spread with tomatoes and oil, and sprinkle with sea salt to taste.