Tara stopped by a local food co-op last week and found black garlic. She bought a bag, reminiscing over the amazing black garlic aioli we used to enjoy from Pacific House in Vancouver, WA.
“Let’s make our own!” I said, suggesting we use it in place of mayo on a BLT, one of the restaurant’s house specialties.
My wife was down with this idea, and found a recipe online. It seemed simple enough: black garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice, sea salt, olive oil. Combine, stir, eat. Those are three things I know how to do pretty well. So, I whipped up a batch on Monday. Eagerly took a taste…
…and just as eagerly spit it out.
It wasn’t great, and by “not great,” I mean, pretty gross. It was bland, and the olive oil was overpowering. It didn’t just linger on your palate; it hijacked it and demanded a hefty ransom. Tara tried doctoring up the aioli, adding additional yolks, more salt, extra lemon juice, but to no avail.
It was an aioli fail. A failoli, if you will.
But then. THEN. I got the bright idea to email the restaurant and request their recipe. This had worked for me in the past; I’ve learned if you heap showers of praise upon an eatery, promise to still visit often, and offer up your body, they’ll be happy to share recipes! (Learned later you can skip the whole offering your body part and still get a response.) It’s the reason I am able to make the same steamed clams we declared were “the best we ever had” after dining at Silver Salmon Grille in Astoria. If you’re ever in town, do go. Highly recommended!
(Fun (?) aside: “grill” and “grille” are homophonic heterographs—words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently. A grill is a cooking surface that uses parallel metal bars to heat food and a grille is a a metal frame with bars across it that is used to cover or protect something. The only reason restaurants sometimes use Grille is to sound fancy, because technically, it makes no sense. I’m giving Silver Salmon Grille a pass because they were kind enough to share their clam recipe with me.)
I decided to try the same approach with Pacific House. Pulled up their website, found their contact form, and emailed a politely flattering request for their aioli recipe, explaining that we now lived 1,250 miles away and missed that dish so much we often fantasized about it. In retrospect, I may have oversold things just a tad. But it worked, because I had a reply within an hour.
This is a classic good news/bad news scenario. The good news? They were more than happy to share their aioli recipe. The bad news? It’s for their restaurant quantity, which must be made in a giant vat. I figured this out pretty quickly as I scanned the ingredients: 60 egg yolks. 14 cups of salad oil. Eight lemons. And so forth and so on. Perfect for an intimate dinner of 100 people or so.
Hey, beggars can’t be choosers! We’ll just need to figure out how to scale back the recipe substantially. There are online cooking conversion calculators that can help, though they’re inexact. I entered the recipe, changed the servings from 100 to 4, and hit resize. Now we can use a far-more-reasonable two egg yolks, but 0 shallots and 0 lemons can’t be right.
I’ll play around with it for awhile to see if I can figure out the ratios. A serving size of 100 is just a shot-in-the-dark guess on my part. The recipe we tried called for a single egg yolk, so maybe the actual serving is closer to 60. This may be a case of trial and error and error and error.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been cooking a lot more this past month. Or more accurately, the things I have been making have been more labor-intensive. Chicken corn chowder. Spaghetti. Enchiladas and refried beans from scratch. Dishes normally served infrequently and pretty much confined to weekends. But when your home office is steps from the kitchen, it’s easy to multitask. Sauce can be simmering while you’re writing articles about creating DIY no-sew cloth face masks.
Yesterday was about as perfect a weather day as you’ll ever find around here: sunshine, a light breeze, 74º. So, I moved my home office into the backyard in the afternoon. That was blissful.
One person commented on this photo, Didn’t you JUST have a dump load of snow??? We did, I told her. And it was all gone, every last trace, within four hours. In fact, on Sunday, I posted the following two photos to illustrate the easy-come-easy-go nature of April snow in western South Dakota:
The image on the left was taken at 9 a.m. The image on the right was taken at 1 p.m. Same yard, different perspective.
Proof that, in Rapid City, you can experience multiple seasons in the span of a single day!