Cuor Di Bue, Italian Oxheart Tomatoes Taste Great

photo cour di bueI can't wait to make sauce with these. The first tomatoes came off the vine today, and while a little small compared to the fruits that will be coming, the taste for me is what I want in a tomato. Sweet but not overwhelming, a robust and clean tomato taste, and nice finish of acid to cleanse the pallete. The sweet and the acid are balanced nicely, and the tomato itself is full of genuine tomato flavor. Sometime I will buy jars of prepared sauce from Italy when there is a good sale. I often wondered what tomatoes they used for these sauces. I doubt they are San Marzanos because if they were, it would be noted on the label. The taste is very close to the flavor of the jar sauces I buy, and close to the taste of the canned Italian tomato puree I buy also.

From what I've read, the Cour Di Bue is considered a good saucing tomato and is considered a red tomato. It has a dense and meaty texture. The vines that I'm growing are vigorous, however I haven't grown too many oxhearts so I don't have a frame of reference to compare this variety to. They are VERY prolific. It's considered a rare tomato in the USA, and I can see that it will be in my garden every year. I am very pleased.

I ordered my seeds from here, however I got a different brand then what is available now.

Check out my project, a photo book of the buds of the 22 varities of tomatoes that I'm growing this year.

The Plot Twist of the Mark Twain Tomatoes

In this post, The Magic in This Story's Process, I wrote about a plot twist about Mark Twain tomatoes that presented itself: Mark Twain tomatoes - Never heard of them until I started seeking out rare tomato seeds for Vanishing Feast. I discovered them in the catalogue. When I went to order the seeds, they were out. I was faced with a choice, a classic example in building a narrative in a story. Do I just say "oh well I'll order earlier next year" or do I demonstrate my commitment to this project, and start a journey to find these seeds or plants. I chose to find seeds, plants or both. A little alchemy later for making the right choice, I found plants that will be available in northern Tennessee at Shy Valley Plant Farm. Living in southern New Jersey I can make this trip, document it as part of this story, and taste these rare tomatoes, that evidently bruise easily but taste really good. Perhaps the Mark Twain will become a rally point in this story.

I took that trip this past weekend. I stayed in Johnson City, TN, which I found out is right down the the road from Jonesborough, TN. Jonesborough hosts a National Storytelling Festival. At the Inetrnational Storytelling Center.  Imagine that? A plot twist in a story about tomatoes named after a great American writer, who wrote classic American stories, leads me to an area that hosts a storytelling festival and is home to an international storytelling center.

Pretty darn cool I will say. Had I shrugged my shoulders, and said I'll order earlier next year, the above would never happened. I would have gotten the seeds instead of finding the plants. I would've never met the nice owners of Shy Valley, and never discovered the storytelling festival or center.

Viewing my life as a story, and using this blog as a medium to focus my passion and attention towards expressing that concept, along with demonstrating the twists and turns that make a story great, the narrative that developed is so much better then anything I could've made up. There's the magic in the process.

The tomatoes Jeff? What about the tomatoes? I'll find out later in the season when they get ripe.The people at have good things to say about the flavor, so I will go on that for now. I can't seem to find much more information about Mark Twain tomatoes so far, but if its out there, I will.

The blurb from says they bruise easily, which disqualifies them the big box retailing model in existence today. According to that model, this tomato has no value. I call bull shit on that. The value in this tomato is that exclusive to people who grow it. It much more precious because of it's nature. And it fits in well the concept of heirloom plants as family heirlooms. I can see these tomatoes becoming a rally point for Vanishing Feast because of the process covered above that brought them to my attention, the magic in the process, and the value that disqualifies them from the big box retail model.

Here's a quote from Mark Twain's story, Hunting The Deciftful Turkey:

I was ashamed, and also lost; and it was while wandering the woods hunting for myself that I found a deserted log cabin and had one of the best meals there that in my life-days I have eaten. The weed-grown garden was full of ripe tomatoes, and I ate them ravenously, though I had never liked them before. Not more than two or three times since have I tasted anything that was so delicious as those tomatoes. I surfeited myself with them, and did not taste another one until I was in middle life. I can eat them now, but I do not like the look of them. I suppose we have all experienced a surfeit at one time or another. Once, in stress of circumstances, I ate part of a barrel of sardines, there being nothing else at hand, but since then I have always been able to get along without sardines.

I'll let you know if the Mark Twain's are as delicious as that quote. Que the cliffhanger.

Heirloom Garden 2011, Part 1 of 2

So I sat down to plot my garden, and I realized I don't have the specific layout of my double plot. The plots are 20'x30'. I'm not sure if I will have a 20'x60' vertical rectangle, or a 40"x30" horizontal rectangle. I'll know for sure on March 22, 2011 when I attend the community garden program  meeting. I did get the seedlings started, and for now I will fill you in what's included this year. The perimeter of the plot will be defined by a necessary fence, and a lot of sunflowers. I love sunflowers. I always have. And once I read the Greek myth about how the sunflower came about, well I channeled that into a Halloween costume. You haven't lived until you danced to The B52s dressed as a sunflower. Being 6'4" I would have to say I was a Mammoth Grey Stripe.


Clytie was a water-nymph and in love with Apollo, who made her no return. So she pined away, sitting all day long upon the cold ground, with her unbound tresses streaming over her shoulders. Nine days she sat and tasted neither food nor drink, her own tears and the chilly dew her only food. She gazed on the sun when he rose, and as he passed through his daily course to his setting; she saw no other object, her face turned constantly on him. At last, they say, her limbs rooted in the ground, her face became a sunflower, which turns on its stem so as always to face the sun throughout its daily course; for it retains to that extent the feeling of the nymph from whom it sprang.

Appropriately enough, I do have Mammoth Grey Stripes for the corners, and perhaps in the middle of each side. In between there will Ruby Eclipse, Tiger's Eye, Soraya, The Joker, and Hopi Black Dye, which may turn into a tie-dye project. I also have two sunflower samplers, one of which is from Italy.

There is the Family Quilt which I am planting in the center of the plot. I'm thinking a 5'x5' square, and will include Jimmy Nardello Sweet Italian Frying Peppers, that represent the Basilica region Italy where my maternal grandparents are from. Belmonte tomatoes, which is a Calabrese heriloom, representing the Calabria region of Italy, where my paternal grandparents are from. Fish Peppers, which represent the Philadelphia area that my grandparents settled in. The Fish Pepper is a hot pepper variety grown by African-Americans in the Philadelphia/Baltimore area to season fish chowders. They have lovely variegated foliage, with peepers that change colors as they mature. And representing the Garden State, aka New Jersey, where I grew up and learned about gardening from my parents, there will be Rutgers tomatoes, a very prolific and tasty New Jersey red heirloom tomato, and Box Car Willies, another New Jersey red heirlooms.

New this year will be a small patch of cucumbers. Last year I had one Lemon Cucumber plant which I got a total of 2 cucumbers from. I tried to direct seed them, and got hit with excessive heat and cucumber beetles right away. I'm surprised the plant survived. I am growing them again this year, but will have plants from my seeds.  I really enjoyed the two that I got. They're round and a very pretty yellow. They have thin skins and have a nice taste.

There will be Painted Serpent Cucumbers, which are really a melon that originated in Armenia, and were brought to Italy in the 15th century. Think of all the generations that have passed since then. They grow long and narrow with a slight twist. They will be a good complement to the round yellow Lemon cucumbers. I'm proud to be growing a plant with such a long history.

Rounding out the trilogy, I will be growing Boothby's Blonde Cucumbers, which is a Maine heirloom. They tend to be small, plumb ovals and are yellow. They sound like a nice compliment to the other two.

I also have some melon seeds but I'm not sure if I will attempt to grow them. If I do, there is the Pepino Melon which sounds like beauty. It's a South American melon that grows on a shrub more then a vine. Combine that with it's yellow color and purple stripes, and you have my attention. I do have to say though I'm as fascinated with melons as I am with tomatoes.

And rounding out Part 1 is the Hinklehatz Hot Pepper, or Chicken Heart as it's know to the Pennsylvania Amish. It's suppose to have 125,000 scoville units, which is quite a kick. The Amish use it for a spicy vinegar, which sounds like a great idea to me. I'll add some to a bottle of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and have a nice bottle of sweet and spicy for when that mood strikes.

Part 2 will cover the rest of the tomatoes in depth. There are 15 varities that I will be growing, including the two mentioned above. It will be quite a garden.