Best things, Part II: Garlic
A couple of months ago I decided to occasionally post about a great kitchen tool when I have nothing else to post about, which is the case today. I roasted a chicken on Sunday night, and we’ve been eating it all week. I’m growing feathers here. Luckily we had pork at work today, since tomorrow there will be more poultry in my life. (The Brouwers are going to deep-fry their turkey though, which I’ve never experienced, so I am excited!).
This edition of Best Things is a double feature. I have two devices for garlic that I can’t cook without: my aillade from Provence, and my Zyliss Susi garlic press. My friend Liz brought me the aillade when we were all in France together and she went to Avignon (the aillades in this picture look almost just like mine). It’s essentially a tiny plate with a rough center, perfect for quickly making a paste out of a garlic clove. I use the aillade when I want a really strong, spicy, garlicky flavor. I don’t know what makes it different from pressed or chopped garlic, but the aroma and flavor are significantly stronger with the aillade. I suppose you’d get the same result with a mortar and pestle, but I have neither. It takes less than five seconds to purée a clove, and even less than that to clean it.
Unless you go to France, you can’t buy an aillade. However, and I haven’t tried this yet, but I think a ginger grater would be just as convenient. It looks almost exactly the same, and you can get them in Asian stores, like Pearl River Mart in SoHo.
The other essential garlic device is the Susi press by Zyliss. I once bought a Pedrini, which shattered in my hands after about its 20th clove. My mother berated me and said the Susi was the only one worth buying. The Susi is a beast. I can shove two or three medium cloves into its generously sized hole and crush the hell out of them. I am never afraid of breaking it. It’s not even necessary to peel the cloves!
Susi used to be easy to clean, because it comes with a tiny blue tool with prongs that go through its holes. Unfortunately, those little prongs got bent out of shape a few weeks after I bought it, rendering it useless. This isn’t a fatal flaw, however, because a stiff dish brush picks out the garlic remnants almost just as quickly.
I use the garlic press and the aillade about equally. I think it really depends on my mood, whether I feel like fussily rubbing a clove on a plate, or more like jamming garlic through metal. If you don’t have a garlic press, or yours sucks, this is a good way to part with $15. If you’re one of those people who chops every clove by hand, I’ll keep you in my prayers.