'I'm making toasted bread with garlic, would you like some too, pipike (little chicken),' my mother would ask when I was little. 'Nagyon finom! (it's very delicious)', she added enticingly, as she rubbed a clove of garlic over the thick slices of hot, freshly toasted continental bread.
Sometimes she would spread cultured butter on the bread beforehand. Remember olive oil wasn't readily available in the 1960s. In those days olive oil was something your mother bought it from the chemist. It was gently warmed and a few drops would be popped into your ear to ease the pain of an earache. It worked. And is still recommended by doctors and nurses today.
In summer, mum would slice some of my father's homegrown Oxheart tomatoes onto the toasted bread (or Pirítós as we knew it), making sure she added just the right sprinkle of salt and pepper. The tomatoes were just picked, still warm from the sunshine and simply bursting with flavour!
I thought about my mother and father and their love of Pirítós with garlic and tomato when Peter and I enjoyed a brunch of basil and tomato bruschetta at The Palms in Stanwell Park recently. It's one of our favourite cafes in the Wollongong region and well worth a visit. Chef/owner, Ian Draper, and his wife, Jo, pride themselves on the quality of the produce they use... my kind of people!
The tomatoes in our kitchen garden aren't doing terribly well this season (they are coming on very slowly), but the basil is flourishing and we have plenty of home grown garlic. So, after a trip to the Capital Region Farmer's Market last weekend, we returned with a basketful of beautifully ripe tomatoes from Torcaso Produce, together with Dom's wood fired continental bread and extra virgin olive oil from the O'Clerys at Homeleigh Grove. Needless to say, I set to work on preparing Bruschetta a la Lizzy, the perfect summertime brunch. I'm not going to give you a recipe per se, for the preparation is so simple that you don't need one. Just be sure to use the freshest of ingredients. Toast the bread. Rub it immediately with a clove of garlic. Arrange some sliced tomatoes over the garlicky bread, sprinkle with tiny basil leaves and good olive oil. Season to taste and serve while warm.
The (very simple) process in pictures...
Tell me, how are your tomatoes doing this season? Do you grow basil and garlic? What's your favourite olive oil? And do you bake your own wood fired bread?
14/1/2013 05:09:14 pm
It's delicious, isn't it Lisa! Enjoy the basil while it lasts! ; D
15/1/2013 07:37:47 am
Hi Ann, oh how wonderful that you have Roma tomatoes growing well! Mine are so slow this season, many flowers, but not fruit. I am wondering if I need to pollinate by hand, in case the lack of bees recently is affecting?
14/1/2013 07:25:34 pm
Is there anything better than this in the summer? Yum
15/1/2013 07:38:09 am
Not much.... ; )
14/1/2013 08:19:27 pm
My parents, newly arrived from Italy in the mid '50s, tell horror stories of trying to buy olive oil in Sydney. Only available from a few select Italian grocery shops apparently.
15/1/2013 07:39:19 am
Hello, I can imagine the food culture shock your parents felt. Mine did too. There were no Italian grocery stores in my city that I know of in the 1950s and 60s.
15/1/2013 06:38:12 am
Firstly I am blown away by your wonderful photography yet again. This recent blog entry is brimming full of light, energy, yumminess (is that a word) - in essence YOU. There are few in all the many many blogs I have read who can transfer their interesting selves in such a consistently interesting way. You carry us with you in your interesting food life, regular life and your past life firmly rooted in your rich Hungarian heritage liberally swathed in post-WWII Australia with bright happy entries. I look forward to your daily tweets as well. Thanks Liz. Your generosity knows no bounds. We are all the richer for that.
15/1/2013 07:41:23 am
Lordy, Karen, thank you! I am blushing at your kind words, and chuffed at your compliments. Thank you very much. I have very fond memories of a happy family life; and I also love what I'm doing here. I guess it just shines through.
15/1/2013 06:46:15 am
Such simplicity but so much flavour indeed!
15/1/2013 07:44:41 am
Hi Bec... I have about five little basil plants (planted not that long ago) in a really sunny spot in the kitchen garden. They are doing really well. Some other little plants, in the shelter of the tall celery which I'm allowing to seed, are not doing so well. Yummo indeed! Thanks for popping by.
15/1/2013 11:18:24 am
Hello Lizzy, finally getting back to your blog after a busy period of travelling and subsequently packing, unpacking and washing!
16/1/2013 01:22:02 pm
Hello there my friend Jane! Freshness is the key.... thank you for your kind words about the photos. The new camera is fun, a learning curve, but fun! Happy growing xo
15/1/2013 04:03:59 pm
Bruschetta is my absolute favorite part of summer; I could (and nearly have!) eat it daily. Beautiful tomatoes!
16/1/2013 01:18:00 pm
Hi Laura, I am the same... can I just tell you, those tomatoes don't just look good, they taste it too! A rare thing these days, especially with supermarket tomatoes, which I just don't bother with!
16/1/2013 01:18:25 pm
True, El. I will send some warmth your way! I hear it's snowing! ; D
17/1/2013 09:59:30 am
Isn't it funny how you had to buy olive oil from a chemist! And now look at how much there is available! What sweet memories of your mum too Lizzy :D
17/1/2013 10:09:08 am
Things have certainly changed from when my parents first came to Australia in 1957, Lorraine. Thank you for your kind words ; D
17/1/2013 11:47:34 am
What a beautiful story Lizzy! I am planning on a dinner of home-grown tomatoes on bruschetta this evening thanks to your beautiful pictures!
21/1/2013 11:06:27 am
Thank you Anna! You are very fortunate to have home grown tomatoes. Mine are very slow this year! Thank you for the kind words about the pics. That is the REAL colour of the tomatoes, no doctoring of the picture! See the basil and bread colour to prove it.
21/1/2013 11:07:41 am
I haven't tried olive oil in my ears, to be honest. That was something my mum did. I never thought of it when my kids were little, but they had tonsillitis more than ear dramas. Best wishes that your tomatoes and basil survived ; )
20/1/2013 03:43:29 pm
here in tas (or maybe just at my place) it seems the tomatoes are never ready at the same time as the basil! (or cucumber, or lettuce, or any other salady type thing). i do love a sandwich like that. that can be dinner for me, when the tomatoes are home-grown luscious.
21/1/2013 11:08:23 am
Oh, bother to that! Nothing wrong with a sandwich or bruschetta for dinner! I imagine we might be slimmer if we did this more often! ; )
16/2/2013 01:07:51 pm
Servusz! It is finom indeed! Thank you for visiting. xo
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Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.