Christopher Ranch’s California Garlic Blog

It’s no mystery that fresh garlic is one of the most popular, versatile ingredients ever. What remains relatively unknown, however, are the distinct flavor, quality and health differences associated with varying garlic varieties. Christopher Ranch, a family farm in Gilroy, Calif., grows a California heirloom garlic that is a leader in each category. All Garlic Is Not Created Equal. We’ll show you why.

DAD’S WHEELBARROW GRILL AND CLAMS ON THE HALF SHELL

I’ve said in a previous blog that moms and food go together, but it’s also true of dads. Most times we picture them at the grill handling a heap of steak, brauts and beer, almost like the captain of a ship, in total control of rare, medium and well done. My dad was no different, although his method of barbecuing was like nobody else. His grill was a masterpiece of invention on a shoestring. Picture if you will (I often do), a beat-up old, metal wheelbarrow with the front grill of an antiquated truck laid across the top of it. It was classic dad ingenuity and when he wheeled it into the patio, all we saw was  “yum, barbecue!” and didn’t care what it looked like.

His do-it-yourself ways belied an expert griller, especially when it came to chicken, which he basted at steady intervals with a blend he put together in a large Mason jar. He filled the jar with olive oil, added a cube of butter, a splash of sauterne (probably his secret ingredient), and many garlic cloves. The key to this recipe, however, was the basting “brush” he made with a bunch of fresh rosemary sprigs, another money saver because rosemary grew like a weed in our yard, but it added the perfect touch of flavor.

Dad appreciated nature’s bounty and often went hunting and fishing. He loved to go “clamming” and had a secret spot off the coast highway near Pismo, California, where the clams were almost as large as my hand. He would bring home a gunny sack of “treasure” and prepare the Clams on the Half Shell. His recipe was basic: blend clam juice, fresh chopped garlic and parsley, white wine, a little lemon, salt and pepper and pour over the halves before baking. I can still see my dad pulling them out of the oven while our family waited with forks at the ready. We ate like kings for the price of a fishing license….

I haven’t seen clams that large for many years, but Dad’s recipe will work for any seafood – calamari, scallops – and don’t forget to top them all with lots of chopped green garlic. Dad would have done it in a heartbeat!

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