Monday, 23 May 2011

First Season's Garlic. First Season's Racing.

I’ve got a mate, Paul, who’s allergic to garlic. Can you imagine?  When he comes over for dinner when I’m at home, I have to remove all garlic and garlic products from the house because a large proportion of food I cook and eat has garlic involved. I have to really concentrate very hard not to use it.

You wouldn’t like this one then Paul, sorry. I’d like to say you’re not missing anything but that would be a huge lie.  All the more for us.

I picked up some wet garlic from the little market in Ajaccio, the town in Corsica where we’re moored up awaiting our first regatta of the season. I originally purchased just the one bulb and took it back to the boat with huge pride and excitement. My fellow crew members weren’t quite as excited as me though and I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to best make use of my little gem of loveliness. Wet garlic is fresh, new season garlic and is available in late spring. It doesn’t take long for it to begin to dry and take on the papery skin of the regular garlic you get in the super market. But it is sweeter and very mellow flavoured without the potential acridness of regular garlic that can linger in your mouth and ruin an otherwise perfectly good date.

In the end I decided that the best way to enjoy the rare opportunity to eat wet garlic was to eat a lot of it. And we did. I went back to the market the next morning and bought more bulbs to roast whole; drizzled with olive oil, some of what’s left of my rather depleted lemon-thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper. A little squeeze of lemon juice later and in to the oven they popped. I can’t type this fast enough, I’m so excited to tell you about it.

So in addition to buying extra garlic at the market I also bought some Corsican goats cheese. It was recommended to me by the chap selling the cheese after telling him what I was serving it with. I felt pretty proud explaining about the imminent roasting of garlic despite my very poor attempt to speak French to him. Of course he spoke almost fluent English back to me which say’s a lot about my French. (Must try harder)

However his choice of Corsican goat’s cheese for my menu was spot on. The crew gathered in the forepeak and we pretty quickly managed to ‘mmm’ and ‘oh’ our way through 3 large bulbs of roasted garlic with lemon thyme, served with Corsican goats cheese and a drizzle of honey on warm, brown, crusty bread. Obviously we ate this with some very nice Corsican red wine. And some beers and some rose. Well, one really must try the local cuisine when one is abroad mustn’t one?

The crew loved it so much I think I may have to repeat the experience several times whilst we’re here. The garlic was so soft and mellow that one or two of the guys were convinced they could go out afterwards in the hope of meeting some Corsican girls and not worry about garlic breath. I’m not sure anybody got lucky last night but I do know it was nothing to do with the garlic.

Give it a go! (Wet garlic that is; not trying to get lucky with Corsican girls) You’ll probably find wet garlic at farm shops and farmers markets in the UK. Or start growing your own! One day, when I have my very own garden…

Guess that finished then.

See you soon, and Thanks for reading!