The word "caviar" evokes images of superb quality, so for a tomato paste be billed as "tomato caviar," it must have a magnificent taste and texture, and be able to stand alone as a spread.
Anydro Tomato Caviar from the Greek island of Santorini does all that and more.
In 1997, agriculturist Peter Oikonomou began growing tomatoes on Santorini, in arid soil comprised largely of volcanic ash.
He isn't the only one who cultivates tomatoes on Santorini; the island is known for its small tomatoes (the size of cherry tomatoes) which have a more concentrated deep color than others and have been shown to contain higher levels of lycopene and antioxidants. But Peter Oikonomou does it differently.
He plants 50 times fewer plants per acre than other growers in order to ensure that his tomatoes are rich in everything the soil has to offer, and uses old-fashioned methods to make his now famous sun-dried tomatoes and a tomato paste so rich and delicious that it's marketed under his Anydro brand as "tomato caviar."
Anydro is the Greek word for "without water." Oikonomou's tomatoes are not irrigated to supplement the moisture they get naturally. The island of Santorini has an average annual rainfall of around 15 inches (and almost none of that during the summer months), certainly not enough to water tomato plants they way we usually do in our home gardens! It's the volcanic ash in the soil that keeps the ground aerated so the plants can grab every precious drop of moisture. Dew, mist, and natural humidity help as well.
Oikonomou has won awards for his tomatoes and has been featured on the Discovery Channel. And recently, his Anydro Tomato Caviar has been made available in the US market.
A Tomato Paste that Matches the Name
The difference between this and other brands of tomato paste is evident immediately upon opening the jar. It smells divine, and begs for a quick taste on the tip of a spoon. It's thicker than other brands I've tried, and the taste is strong and complex - dusky and smoky. It's pricey, to be sure (around $US 11 for a 7.6-ounce jar), but worth it for those occasions and dishes that deserve an added dimension - and a little goes a long way.
In Greek homes, a small amount of tomato paste of this quality is spread on slices of fabulous breads with a little olive oil (and try adding a crumble of feta cheese on top), and I recommend adding a little to other dishes (soups, stews, sauces, and more) to give an extra measure of taste, depth, and thickening. Use less than you would of other tomato pastes because the taste is so intense.
However you use it, the taste and texture will shine!