With Father's day is a few days away I look back fondly at the lessons I learned from my father in the kitchen. He always started in the garden and worked his way back to the kitchen to pull together the fixings for dinner. As the oldest it was I who usually had to figure out what to do with the sometimes bizarre array food. I learned early to be creative in the kitchen and the results were generally pretty good.
I especially loved it when he started to cook you knew you were in for a treat. Homemade root beer and ice-cream for floats or fried green tomatoes, ham and dippy bread. In the summer in Maine it was long neck clams freshly dug from the sandy beach that we'd dip in a big bowl of melted butter. Now when he has time to cook he concocts his own multi-grain breads when slathered with fresh sweet butter is a comforting treat.
Thinking back I'm sure he was one of the first foodies. We'd drive way out of our way for the best ice-cream, potato chips, corned beef you name it. And when we were in the markets and he found something new he'd begin to wonder out loud "now what would you do with that". A few weeks ago in the market I found black garlic at the market. It is has the texture and color of soft black licorice. The flavor is rich, and complex with earthy mushroom and molasses note on the finish. It has none of the acridness of fresh garlic.
Now what to do with it. Back home I minced it and added it to everything I was cooking and that was good but the flavor was easily lost in the dishes I tried. Preparing a luncheon for the Napa wine auction I wanted an Aioli, and discovered it is the best way to flaunt the black garlic. It is great with grilled eggplant and beef, it doesn't need to be cooked either. It's not easy to find but worth seeking out and you can buy it on line for half the price I found it in Napa.