I don’t like raw tomatoes. Really. I may be the only Italian restaurateur who will actually pick out every slice of raw tomato in my antipasto or caprese salad. How dare you put those in there letting them infect the rest of the edible goodies. But, Spanish Pan Con Tomate is the exception to the rule. There is always an exception, isn’t there?
Pan con Tomate is a popular Spanish dish that is made by rubbing small tomatoes on a slice of toasted, rustic bread then topping with olive oil and salt.
My introduction to Pan Con Tomate was at Barcelona’s Taller de Tapas, on my very first time traveling to Spain. At the time, it could have been considered just a blind date. I knew I was going out to have a meal recommended by friends, but didn’t quite know what to expect. The restaurant then set me up with complimentary Pan Con Tomate, unbeknownst to me, blindly. And I liked it. He looked good. And he tasted good. But, admittedly, he was forgotten soon after the evening came to an end.
No phone numbers were exchanged and no second date was planned.
But then, on this same trip, I took a cooking class in the heart of Barcelona where we learned how to make Pan Con Tomate from scratch and that’s when I began to develop a little bit of a crush. Though, I couldn’t give him the proper attention because, at the time, it was more important to learn the proper paella technique than exploring my chemistry with Pan Con Tomate.
It wasn’t until my most recent trip, where we would be tasting many of Spain’s 50 great cavas, that I actually fell in love with Pan con Tomate. He stalked me at almost every restaurant and home. And it worked.
The exact moment that I fell head over heels was while sipping a Brut Nature cava at Finca Valldosera. The table was perfectly set and there was a large loaf of crunchy bread on a pedestal. Come to mama. A plate of small vine ripe tomatoes, a decanter of olive oil and a small ramekin of salt were waiting in the wings. A deconstructed Pan Con Tomate.
You mean my new boyfriend can be created to have the exact characteristics I desire? I am officially in love.
This relationship was simple. There was no drama. No heartbreak. And no socks left on the bathroom room floor. Just pure passion.
From now on, when I think of Spain, I fantasize about my next romantic date with Pan con Tomate. A truly delicious thought that invades my mind throughout the day.