Friday, June 24, 2011

The stinking rose (or lily, rather)

It seems that I have successfully grown my first batch of garlic, and boy is it beautiful. I've got about 6 or 7 heads curing (aka drying) as they hang from the edge of my pot rack right now, and there are at least a dozen more that will be pulled over the next couple of weeks.

While scouring the back yard for signs of future vegetables these past few weeks, I've been checking on my inaugural planting of garlic (started this past autumn). Every few days as I wander out past the garden I see another plant leaning over, calling out to be harvested. And just in time: I'm just at the end of my stash of stinky lilies from cousin Caroline! I'll be making a trip out to her farm next weekend, and can hopefully stock up a bit as I help Caroline and Gary with their annual garlic harvest; I've only grown about 20 heads of my own, mostly Polish heirloom white softneck variety.

Did you know that garlic and onions are in the same family as lilies? A number of years ago, while living in Brooklyn, I recall making a luscious "four lily soup" with garlic, vidalia onions, red onions, and shallots. I believe it was in Gourmet Magazine (R.I.P.) and Nick and I made a quadruple batch. Boy was it good....

For those of you who have never planted it before, garlic is easy. Foolproof, almost. (Famous last words, right?) Dad, back me up here: isn't garlic the easiest thing you've ever planted? In the fall, you simply take a head of (preferably organic) garlic, break it into cloves, and stick the cloves into the ground, about 6 or 8 inches apart, about 2 inches deep, and cover it with soil. No need to peel the cloves or anything. Each clove grows into a head of garlic. It's almost like magic. They grow through the winter and spring with very little maintenance, and by early summer you get a delicious garlic scape to feast on, then in mid-summer the plants dry out and fall over to let you know they're ready for harvest. Pull 'em out of the ground, hang 'em up for a few weeks to dry, and then get cooking. It's that easy. Thanks to Becky for introducing me to this most rewarding and simple of growing instructions at her home in Montreal during my little bikeable feast side-trip from Burlington two summers ago.

(Holy cow, has it really been almost two years since I was biking through Vermont? Yikes.)

BTW, the title of this post was inspired by a restaurant I ate at in San Francisco a number of years ago: The Stinking Rose (which should have been named The Stinking Lily, but the all-garlic-themed dishes were tasty, so who am I to point out technicalities?).

I'll be experimenting with dark chocolate covered roasted garlic again soon. Watch out, Dracula.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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