About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006
The Season Continues
Something that has crept quietly into the shops is new season local garlic. I picked up a couple of heads of it last night, the one with the purplish skin. When I got it home I peeled back the still moist outer skin to reveal creamy white unblemished cloves with the unmistakable perfume of garlic, sweet and haunting.

I wanted to use some straight away in a dish that showed them off and immediately thought of the marinara sauce that I recently posted about. With its simplicity and few ingredients it relies on perfect produce to really sing. As I sliced into the cloves I recalled the scene from the movie Goodfellas where in jail, the boys with plenty of time on their hands, sliced the garlic wafer thin with a razor blade, so that it almost dissolved instantly in the hot oil. Well my knife work isn't that good, but I sliced it as thinly as possible.

The clove's uniform creamy colour went all the way through as the inner bud hadn't yet formed, so there were no green bits in it and because it was so fresh there were no mouldy old bits that needed excising which is fairly typical of older garlic. I warmed the oil and put in the garlic to infuse and went back to prepare the basil. Normally I leave out the basil because I'm not sure that my six year old daughter M would like it with its confronting flavour, but this time, perhaps selfishly, I wanted the sauce to be the same as it has been for centuries.

In went a couple of tins of crushed tomatoes, the prepared basil and a bit of seasoning. I put the basil in early for I wanted to mute its flavour and I wasn't going to add some fresh at the end either. By this time M had come back from her dancing lesson and asked what was the smell in the kitchen. Thinking it was the basil, I proffered a few leaves under her nose but she said that wasn't it, maybe it was the odour of the new season garlic.

The tortellini went on the boil and a few minutes later everything was ready. M sat with her plate and tasted a little, the moment of truth. She licked all the sauce off the pasta before eating each piece. This went on piece after piece; I wasn't sure what this meant until she reached the end, when she picked up her plate and licked off every last skerrick of sauce. I can't tell you how happy that made me, her tastes are starting to mature, which makes cooking just that little bit easier.

Or maybe it was the new season garlic that gave the sauce such a wonderful depth of flavour. I can feel a garlic soup coming on.
  posted at 7:20 am

At 1:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh the glory of cleaning your plate or just indicating with a sigh - this was really good. A memory is made!!

At 2:12 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, the funny thing is I know I shouldn't let her lick the plate, but I was so proud watching her do it.

At 12:58 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad the marinara went down so well with M :) It's always marvellous when you present something to a picky eater who then turns around to devour the lot!

Can't wait to see the garlic soup - it's not something I've heard of before!

At 4:15 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi ellie, it makes me swell with fatherly pride when it happens - my little gourmet in the making. Will post a garlic soup soon.

At 10:51 pm, Blogger Jeanne said...

That kid sure takes after her father - good taste!!

Isn't it funny how picky kids ca sometimes surprise us? A friend of mine has a famously picky teenage daughter, and when they came over for a BBQ I made carpaccio of zucchini with a very garlicky wholegrain mustard dressing and parmesan shavings. I figured there was no way she was going to eat this mass of chilled green slivers with the strident dressing... but she loved it! Mopped up the sauce with her bread too. Go figure...


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