Black garlic — fashion faux pas or design classic

It amuses me to see fash­ion stores from Zara to Benetton to Top­shop packed with rails of mil­it­ary capes this sea­son. How did the cape sur­vive its first out­ing, let alone get resur­rec­ted? I remem­ber plead­ing for one as a teen­ager, along with a pair of white pull-on wet-look knee-length boots. I even­tu­ally got the cape — still wait­ing for the boots.

The first thing I learned about wear­ing a cape is that the restrict­ive slits give you instant Dalek-arms. In fact, the whole sil­hou­ette is start­lingly Dalek-like. So, no, I won’t be buy­ing a cape this time round.

The food equi­val­ent of the over-rated cape has to be foam. To my mind, eat­ing foam is no tasti­er than lying on the beach, swill­ing the frothy water’s edge around your pal­ate like a whale siev­ing plank­ton. I’m not 100% con­vinced by any­thing ‘en croute’ either, since it’s little more than a posh pie with a swanky name.

I’ve just been to a food fair and I bought what was described as ‘the next big thing in food’. It’s black gar­lic — stand­ard white gar­lic fer­men­ted for three weeks and dried for anoth­er week. Black gar­lic tastes like liquorice crossed with rais­ins with a back fla­vour of cooked gar­lic. It has a con­sist­ency that reminds me of chest­nuts or even fruit pas­tilles. It’s reputed to have none of that fierce, pun­gent after­taste that lingers. My daugh­ter ate a whole clove and pro­nounced it to be like ‘eat­ing a candy’. And it turns out the man­u­fac­tur­ers are telling the truth — there’s abso­lutely no linger­ing.

But is black gar­lic just a mil­it­ary cape in dis­guise, or is it pure Chanel — eleg­ant, time­less and exquis­ite?

This was my fash­ion exper­i­ment.….

The Recipe: Beetroot and Black Garlic Bruschetta With Goat’s Cheese and Walnuts

Enough for 4

1 beet­root

4 slices sour­dough bread, toasted

8 cloves black gar­lic

150g goat’s cheese — the soft, creamy kind

Bal­sam­ic vin­eg­ar — the syr­upy kind

Hand­ful of chives

Hand­ful of wal­nuts broken up with your hands

Cut the stalk off the beet­root and place in a pan of sim­mer­ing water. Boil for half an hour or until tender. Remove from the water and once cool enough to handle, peel the out­er skin off. Slice the beet­root and put to one side while you toast the sour­dough bread.

Rub one clove of black gar­lic onto each slice of toasted bread. It will dis­in­teg­rate as you rub it in. Spread each toast with the goat’s cheese fol­lowed by the beet­root. Slice the remain­ing four cloves of black gar­lic and heap onto the beet­root. Add the wal­nuts, a trickle of bal­sam­ic and a drift of chopped chives.

The Verdict

I would def­in­itely buy black gar­lic again and I would cer­tainly pre­pare it like this again. It’s still not quite Chanel, but Chanel wasn’t Chanel in the begin­ning.

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