What's so great about heirloom tomatoes?

I hear so much about them but have not been impressed any of the times I've eaten them. I had some in a tomato salad (with English Cucumber, Warm Feta Croutons, Dehydrated Olives and Basil-Mint Yogurt) at an otherwise great restaurant recently. And their flavor was blah. The texture was nice though. Are heirloom tomatoes just a trend? Have I been getting some blah tomatoes? Am I expecting too much from a tomato?

OTOH, this restaurant's Grilled Anson Mills Corn Cake with Blueberry-Goat Cheese Ice Cream,Crushed Pecans and Blueberry Coulis was great!


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Maybe you got a bum batch. I think the best way to eat heirlooms is by keeping them as naked as possible. Some good sea salt, fresh black pepper and EVOO is all I require.

Occasionally, some fresh herbs or cheese. If I was going to douse a bunch of stuff on it, I can use regular old tomatoes for that.
There are hundreds of varieties, some juicier, some more tart, some meatier. The biggest thing about heirloom tomatoes is that diversity in crops is very important. The other is that they're beautiful. So you get this variety of tomatoes of all colors and shapes, and some are tart, some sweet, some more meaty than others.
All tomatoes, heirlooms, beefsteaks, plums, should be completely ripe for a salad. If they're not, it's not the same. There is also no comparison between a local tomato and a tomato from thousands of miles away, and that has been kept in storage.
The next one is that tomatoes should not be refrigerated unless it can't be helped, and they must be room temperature for a salad. Cold tomatoes are pointless.
Now the really big one is that tomatoes need salt, and a good amount of it. Lots of cooks really need to push the salt when making salads, but tomato ones in particular. It really does make the difference. Tomatoes and salt are made for each other. If you can salt them for a little while to draw out the juice, so much the better.
But basically, they're still tomatoes and they don't taste dramatically different from any other tomatoes that are also ripe and juicy.
If your tomato salad didn't have warm, bursting with juice, perfectly salted tomatoes to create the perfect balance of sweet, tart, and savory, then I can see how you would find it lacking.

To me it sounds like between the yogurt and feta there's a bit too much creaminess going on and perhaps the sweet balance needed adjustment.
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I like it when people mispronounce the word "heirloom" and instead say, " hair loom."
I like it when people mispronounce the word "heirloom" and instead say, " hair loom."
Originally Posted by ninja dog

I say "air loom", is that right? With my accent it probably sounds more like "ayer loom".

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I can't think of anything much better than an heirloom tomato, organically grown, eaten warm from the sun right out of the garden. Mmmmm.
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I can't think of anything much better than an heirloom tomato, organically grown, eaten warm from the sun right out of the garden. Mmmmm.
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ZOMG I bought four of the most gorgeous heirloom tomatoes at the farm store yesterday-- they're hands down the best tomatoes I've ever had.
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