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Pretty in Pink

A tomato with heart.


Laura Pérez

If Baia Nicchia Farm’s pink heart-shaped tomato sounds like something a seven-year-old girl made up, there’s a reason: One did.

The Rosalinda (Spanish for “pink” and “pretty”) is the brainchild of Nicole Hempel, who was just seven when she came up with the idea in 2007. Nicole’s father, Fred Hempel, owns Baia Nicchia, and this month her tomato—a cross between a round Cherokee Purple and an elongated striped pink varietal—will come to fruition.

For the Hempels, tomato husbandry comes as a kind of birthright. Their Sunol farm specializes in tomato breeding, including custom-made creations for restaurants such as Berkeley’s Corso. Nicole’s older brother, Alex, crossbred two popular lines of the fruit before his 10th birthday.

Fred says the color was a given (“practically her entire wardrobe back then was pink”) while the flavor is on the sweeter side. And how does Nicole recommend eating the Rosalinda?

“It’s pretty sweet, with kind of a bright color, so I’d just slice it and maybe put some olive oil on top,” she says. “I like to eat tomatoes by themselves.”

Get Rosalindas at Berkeley’s Tokyo Fish Market, Lafayette’s Diablo Foods, and Baia Nicchia’s Sunol farm stand. For more information, go to baianicchia.blogspot.com.

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