I can tell you the exact moment that summer started at my house:
12:27 p.m. September 2.
You read that right. That is the moment that summer started. Reports of summer’s death have been greatly exaggerated. And in this house summer starts the moment that I take the first bite of BLT featuring a giant slab of tomato from my garden.
Let’s be clear here: There is no higher purpose in this world than a BLT. It is what all non-cherry tomatoes should aspire to. It is also the only chance a tomato ever has to outshine bacon.
There are times for fancy BLTs. The addition of avocado, for instance, is completely worthwhile. But this BLT—the most important sandwich of the year—is not the time for anything that strays from B, L or T. Other than M (mayo), which is sacrosanct.
It’s not been a stellar year for tomatoes in the garden, although honestly those rarely come around. There’s just not enough heat here for them to do that well. But I plant a lot of tomatoes of all sizes, colors and flavors, and something always makes a good showing. I’ve been enjoying cherry tomatoes for several weeks now (which is the main reason I grow cherry and cocktail type tomatoes), but I picked my first large tomato just a few days ago.
The perfect first-of-summer BLT starts with a country french bread or possibly a light sourdough, toasted to a perfect golden brown. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good multigrain, but save that artisanal bread for the end of tomato season. Layer on fresh crispy romaine (in my case, generously provided all summer by my garden). Next comes the star: thick (3/8-inch seems about right), juicy slabs of a gorgeous beefsteak tomato. I used ‘Tasmanian Chocolate’ by virtue of it being the first big, ripe tomato of the year. Then bacon, for me, cooked to that perfect crisp/chewy thing in the oven.But bacon is a highly personal thing so I’m fully in favor of others cooking it to whatever their definition of perfection is. Finally, mayo.
By sliding the tomato into the center of the sandwich, not only is the bread protected from tomato juice, it also respects the tomato, ensuring that the “T” is the focus. A BTL, if you will.
There are plenty other things I will do with the oncoming abundance of tomatoes. A caprese salad comes pretty close to that BLT as far as pure tomato enjoyment. And various takes on tomato tart are a favorite. And then, of course, there is the way I eat most cherry tomatoes: In one, delicious, dreamy bite, enjoyed within arm’s length of the plant it grew on.