There is transient beauty in a dying garden; an intimacy that is gained by observing its natural progression.
Looking around at the tracery of brittle stems, shriveled leaves, and the determination of fruit clinging to withering vines, I see the loveliness of imperfection, the quiet dignity and grace, the stamp of passing time.
The Japanese call this wabi-sabi.
I call it the poetry of decay.
It seems that anything can be called a martini these days. I'm not a purist, but to me, a martini is not defined by the vessel that it's served in, but by the inclusion of gin and vermouth. Beyond that, any added flavor is fair game.
lime basil tomato martini
2 oz. lime basil-infused gin, chilled
1/2 oz. dry vermouth, chilled
1/2 oz. filtered tomato water, chilled
2 cocktail tomatoes, speared on a sprig of basil
Place liquids in chilled cocktail shaker with 2 cubes of ice. Shake and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with cocktail tomatoes.
To make lime basil infused gin: Pack an isi whipper with fresh lime basil that has been lightly crushed. Half-fill the canister with gin. Cover and charge with 1 N2O cartridge. Shake slowly for 1 minute. Rapidly discharge gas. Uncover and allow to stand for 3 minutes before straining. Chill.
To make tomato water: Cut Ripe tomatoes in half horizontally. Set a sieve over a bowl and squeeze out the seed sacs and liquid from tomato halves. Reserve the tomato flesh for another use (if you peel the tomatoes beforehand, the flesh can be diced into concassé). Press on the solids in the sieve to extract as much liquid as possible. Pass the liquid through a micro filter or a coffee filter, without pressing, to produce clear tomato water. Alternately, the sieved liquid can be allowed to stand until the solids settle to the bottom, and the clear liquid can be spooned from the top.
To make cocktail tomatoes: Cut a small, shallow slit in the stem ends of cherry tomatoes (I used Sungolds and Sweet 100s). Drop them into a pot of boiling water for 5 seconds, or until the skins rip open. Immediately remove to a bath of ice water. Slip the skins off each tomato and layer them in a sterilized glass jar with coarse salt (1 teaspoon per pint). Pour in enough dry vermouth to cover the tomatoes by 1/2". Let the tomatoes cure in the refrigerator for 2 days before using.