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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