Blow Horn and Black Garlic
One of my goals this summer is to delve deeper into cheese pairings. I mean, let’s spelunk! If you enjoy stocking a pantry with bits and bobs from your travels, as I do, then you probably have a trove of potions and preserves just waiting to star-cluster around a constellation of cheeses. And with summer beading on our brows, is there a better time to avoid the oven and love on a cheese board for both lunch and dinner?
No! Let’s go! Let’s waltz through through the hotness, cheese board by cheese board.
My newest fandango? Pairing fermented black garlic, a tar-black delicacy I discovered at my local urban farm, thanks to a red-bearded garlic crier named Jimmy. He slipped two bulbs into my handbag one afternoon while I was snooping around his dairy case, and now — alongside medjool dates — I carry black garlic everywhere I go. Nibble it on the subway and you can clear the entire car. Not because it smells foul (it smells sweet, in fact) but because it looks like you are eating dog toenails.
Forget that black garlic isn’t pretty. It’s delicious — sweet, a smidge smoky, with molasses-like finish. It’s also freakishly healthy — according to Mad Dog Farms, my local purveyor, fermented black garlic boosts the immune system with nearly twice the amount of antioxidants of raw garlic.
Keen to try some? You can order black garlic directly from Mad Dog, a sustainably run farm that grows more than a dozen garlic varieties in Bloomsburg, PA. Instructables also offers a DIY approach to fermenting your own bulbs.
Pairing Black Garlic
The figgy sweetness of black garlic makes it a great match for salty cheeses. Here, I paired it with Blow Horn, a dense little geode made by The Farm at Doe Run in nearby Chester County. Blow Horn is bright and piquant with a fair bit of salinity, making it an ideal accent cheese to grate over pasta or sautéed greens. Alone on a board, it needs friends. Sweet friends.
A drizzle of honey. A spool of magic garlic.
You could also pair the new love of my life with…
- Blue cheese
- Pecorino or other hard cheeses
- Aged Gouda
How to Find Blow Horn
Look for Blow Horn around the greater Philadelphia region, at Greensgrow Farms, the cheese counter at Di Bruno Bros., Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market, Kimberton Whole Foods, and at the monthly Thursday market in Urban Outfitters at the Navy Yard — where you can meet the adorable cheesemaking duo Sam Kennedy and Stacey Gentile.
Here, you can see Sam and Stacey with their latest acquisition, a portrait of Blow Horn by my neighbor and friend, the brilliant painter Mike Geno.
Really, a black garlic cocktail?
Couldn’t help myself! You can find the recipe over at my sibling blog, Sprig + Spirit.