Monday, December 21, 2009

"so black and blue for you"

the food: Garlic, garlic, and more garlic 
the song: "Bruises" Chairlift

Ok, stop me if you've heard this one. A girl walks into a bar and orders a beer. About an hour later she gets up to go to the bathroom and notices her foot is a little tingly. Thinking nothing of it, she takes a second step, and her foot goes out completely and makes her fall down. The bartender comes over to make sure she's ok, and she says "Hey, I ordered a Spring Bock, not a Sprain Bock!" Ba-dum-chee! 

Ohhh...geez...that was bad. I apologize. Last night after an incredible Bill Callahan show, I headed with friends to a bar where I drank one beer and proceeded to possibly break my foot. I've spent the morning going to the doctor and getting x-rays, and now I'm just waiting to see if it is a sprain or fracture. Let's hope for a sprain, because otherwise that's a trip to the foot specialist. My picture doesn't do a good job showing how swollen and bruised this thing looks, but from where I'm sitting it's pretty gnarly. Luckily my male nurse is taking good care of me.

But that's all beside the point, because today is a very special, happy day in my house. Today is the husband's birthday! Yay! Happy birthday, honey! We had an amazing birthday weekend filled with good friends and good food. For his birthday party, we wanted to do something a little different that would give people a chance to be creative and try some new things. We wanted something novel and different that included good food.

There are several foods that the husband particularly loves. We are both quite prone to Tex-Mex, specifically queso and migas (in various forms). He really loves ketchup, which makes me a little crazy. But more than anything, he loves garlic. So for his birthday, could anything be better than a garlic potluck?

We truly have the greatest group of friends, and they threw down for this celebration. Everyone was so into the idea and showed off their extensive culinary talents. It made for a really special day- I'm so thankful to our friends for their effort and creativity. Everything on the table included garlic, except for some crackers and bread used to spread the garlic concoctions on. Everything was so good, and it's hard to narrow it down, but I have to give a few shout outs here. I'm excluding my own dishes, but I'll tell you about them in a second.

Most unexpected use of garlic: not 1 but 2 garlic ice creams. One was spiced with black pepper, and another was straight up garlic. Intense and oddly delicious. I'm planning on trying some more tonight to reevaluate the taste since my taste buds are not quite as overloaded as they were at the party.  

Best way to work in pie crust: Bite-size roasted garlic cloves wrapped in pie crust and stuffed with mozzarella cheese. These were gone in about 10 minutes. Pie crust, you rock. 

Best "keep it simple, stupid" dish: 23 heads of roasted garlic, squeezed out and mashed up with bread. Afterall, garlic is perfect, and it doesn't really need anything to dress it up. The garlic puritan that brought this dish came in and literally doubled our clove tally marks.

Most likely to not contain garlic (but actually did): Garlic chip cookies. These cookies were rich and tasty and the garlic was so subtle that you could get away with serving them at a non-garlic potluck. They contained 10 heads, soaked in maple syrup. We luckily still have some of these leftover, too. 

Healthiest: Spicy marinated tofu with garlic. The simple tofu really let the spices do the talking. And it was a tasty break from all the rich dishes. 

Most impressive overall: Garlic beer. I knew about this one when it was brewed, and from the beginning I thought "Cool. It will be novel and mostly undrinkable. But very cool thing to try." I couldn't be more wrong. The beer was smokey and dark with just the slightest complexity of garlic. It will be amazing when we drink it with a non-garlic heavy meal. Can you see why the beer maker is our best friend? I mean...he homebrewed a garlic beer. Wow. 

All the dishes I made actually turned out really good, too. All these recipes are available on other sites, so I'll just link to them that way. First, I made roasted garlic soup containing 44 cloves of garlic. The only changes I made were throwing in some mushrooms and swiss chard to thicken it a bit. This recipe was amazing...super creamy and rich. A carnivorous party-goer told me it was so flavorful, he thought it had meat in it. Ha.

Next up on my list was sweet potato and garlic macaroni and cheese. Mac and cheese is a great thing to make for a potluck because there are people around to shame you out of eating the entire pan yourself. I can ever just make for this dish just for the two of us and feel good about it. (Although the sweet potato makes me feel a little less guilty. Actually, I take it back. Nothing can make up for that much half-and-half.) 

And finally, I took a shot at something really out of my comfort zone and made roasted garlic white chocolate cupcakes. I'm pretty proud of these, because they tasted good as cupcakes  but also really highlighted the garlic.

Man, I could go on here. There was so much delciousness- such a fun way to celebrate. I'm not sure what we'll possibly do to top it next year. But we have 364 days to think about it. For now, I'm going to put my foot up, share a good beer with the birthday boy, and be thankful for fragrant birthday wishes that come true. 


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