If I were going to simply wear it around my neck for what might ail me I’d buy the tasteless imports from China that currently bulge the bins of my local supermarket. But for cooking with the stuff I head to Antonio Cléroux’s stand in the Parkdale Market.
There, I buy a braid of the ‘’Gourmet Red,’ a varietal of the ‘Purple Stripe’ of Hardneck garlic from Antonio’s daughter-in-law Marie, a member of this genial family of growers from Navan.
This is garlic season. And though it’s been brutal growing for many things, garlic has been sitting pretty and parched. It likes a good dry spell a few weeks before harvest and a dry spell it surely did get. Garlic is a member of the lily family and as your grandmother must have told you, “lilies don’t like wet feet.” So there’s a bumper crop out there.
Tonight’s dinner is simple: I’m going to smash a few heads of Purple Stripers, settle the wonky bulbs, skins loose, in a nest of foil, glug on some olive oil, crack some pepper and salt, and toss in some of the thyme besieging my patio. This we’ll roast in the oven until the house smells amazing.
Then, with the baguette I bought from the Art-is-in stand at the Ottawa Bagelshop and the log of Clarmell on the Rideau goat cheese, I’m going to ooze out the bronzed cloves from their silvery paper, smear the gooey clumps over the bread, anoint them with some of that fragrant foil oil, top it with a slice of the soft cheese and maybe a few basil leaves, and then, just before I dig in, I’m going to raise a glass to Antonio, Martin, and Marie Cléroux for all their garlic greatness.
The Parkdale Market is open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.