Sunday, November 16, 2014

Go to the Hot House Café For the Love of Garlic

roasted garlic
The Bard said it himself: “I’d rather live with cheese and garlic in a windmill, than feed on cakes…”

When Shakespeare wrote that line, was he tapping into an age-old alchemy wisdom or was he just being ornery about the habits of the aristocracy? Either way, I must agree with him. Which is why I was at the Hot House Café on Church and Front Streets in Toronto a few days ago. They are celebrating the Garlic Festival there until the end of the month and if you are a garlic lover or a Romanian like my friend Nina (which is the same thing), then you will wish to mosey over there for a real treat!

Just don’t play a game of squash right after—unless you intend to win by default, that is, you stinker! (meow)…

The café features a varied menu of exotic dishes enriched with garlic. Dishes include, among others:
·       Fusilli Salsicce: tender fusilli, tossed with Italian garlic sausage, leek, rapini, roasted garlic, sundried tomato and roasted garlic tomato basil sauce.

·       Roasted Garlic Penne: fresh cremini mushrooms, green peas, and prosciutto simmered with roasted garlic and rich Alfredo suase then tossed with penne and topped with parmesan.

·       Grilled Garlic Sirloin “Rubio”: 8 oz New York, char-grilled to order, marinated in garlic and pepper, topped with a sauce of sliced garlic, butter, fresh oregano and basil, and served with a medley of steamed vegetables and your choice of HotHouse fries, baked potato, rice pilaf or leek and chive mashed.

·       Barramundi: lightly floured and pan seared barramundi filet topped with a roasted garlic Bernaise butter, served with steamed vegetables and choice of HotHouse fries, baked potato, rice pilaf or leek and chive mashed.

·       Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic: supreme of chicken baked with garlic and finished on the grill. Topped with  a roasted garlic, tarragon, white wine and cream reduction. Served with steamed vegetables and your choice of HotHouse fries, baked potato, rice pilaf or leek and chive mashed.
Each dish comes with a whole bulb of roasted garlic cloves. These are exquisite! And simple to make: the tops of the cloves are exposed by cutting their tops, then lathered with olive oil and baked under tin foil for half an hour in a 400 degree oven. Voila! You then simply pop the cloves out of their little skins with a gentle squeeze of the paw and enjoy a truly sensual delight!

So, what is it about garlic that impels poets, philosophers and artists alike to extol its virtues? Gustave Coquiot wrote of garlic: “Garlic all powerful, marvelous seasoning, you impel, you cheer, you are the only condiment, you are the glorious one!” Those are strong sentiments, indeed!

Along with leeks and shallots, garlic (Allium sativum) is a member of the onion family and one of the world's most ancient cultivated plants. It was known in China over 6,000 years ago. The ancient Egyptians used it for pregnancy tests and to cure headaches. The builders of the ancient pyramids ate garlic daily for enhanced endurance and strength. The Romans considered garlic an antidote to poisons, which were very popular in certain circles of the time.  Garlic was used by some as a love potion and by others as the opposite. The god Mercury gave Ulysses wild garlic to keep his men safe from the feminine charms and wiles of Circe. Garlic was used for centuries as protection against evil and was hung in doorways to ward off the demons and the dead. It figures centrally in ghost and vampire mythology. It’s name in Sanskrit means “Slayer of Monsters”.
roasted garlic in olive oil

Fantastic history aside, this powerful herb is now proven as a natural antibiotic. It promotes the well-being of the heart and immune systems with antioxidant properties and helps maintain healthy blood circulation by lowering blood pressure. Garlic can also enhance the body's immune cell activity. It reduces cholesterol and helps regulate blood sugar levels. And it's packed with vitamins and nutrients.

Garlic is one of the ten superstars for cancer-prevention, sharing this distinguished position with berries and citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables, onions, green tea, omega 3 essential fatty acids, olive oil, tomatoes, soy products, red wine and dark chocolate. Meow! I like that list! 

For some cool and surprising garlic home remedies go to this site:

Oh by the way … if you are a cat NOT of the stuffed variety, don’t partake: garlic and onions are toxic to cats and dogs. I'm the cool travel cat... :-3

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