Friday, July 04, 2008

green garlic, zucchini, coffee

a food funk

Nothing is sadder than a string of bad meals.

Wednesday night I stir fried some wild duck that had been in my freezer too long. No amount of hoisin sauce could take away the off flavor of the duck.

Thursday night, we went to a Persian restaurant. Too many ingredients were bad. The radishes served as condiments were rotting. Grilled beef had the flavor of poor quality. And "saffron" basmati rice had no flavor whatsoever.

Plus, my lunches both days had been sad leftovers.

I was having a bad week. I needed something simple and delicious to snap out of it.

I never thought I might be saved by zucchini.

zucchini, green garlic, basil

Zucchini has never interested me much. It doesn't have a bad flavor. It just has never seemed to have much flavor at all.

But some bloggers have been talking the past week about a strange synergy between zucchini and coffee. They claim zucchini enhances the flavor of coffee.

This was something I had to try.

There also has been a lot of talk lately about green garlic. It is on sale at Central Market for 99 cents a bundle.

So for lunch today, I grated a zucchini, salted it for 30 minutes, rinsed it, and then sautéed it with some green garlic.

To finish it, I sprinkled some fresh Thai basil and mint that I have been growing:

This was unlike any zucchini dish I had ever tried.

The zucchini was moist, but had some crunchy edges from the sauté -- like a hash brown but with more juice.

The green garlic added a fresh, vegetal garlic flavor, but was not nearly as bitter as pungent as normal garlic. The salt added a brightness to the zucchini. The herbs added complex, summery flavor notes.

The dish sang.


Halfway through this amazing, simple dish I remembered the coffee.

As I started to make it, I discovered that my wife had made coffee this morning and left it in the pot. So I decided to try the experiment with 3-hour-old coffee.

A sip. Nothing. A gulp. Nothing.

I swished it around my mouth as if I was tasting wine. Nothing. No strong flavors of nuts but chocolate. But also, no bitterness. No stale coffee flavor.

The zucchini had simply neutralized the flavor of the stale coffee, mellowed it out, made it palatable. But it didn't enhance the flavor either.

Perhaps I will try the experiment later with higher quality, fresh coffee.

Yet the zucchini/coffee experiment had been a success. I discovered that zucchini makes stale coffee taste ok.

More importantly, for the first time, I have fallen in love with zucchini.


neverfull said...

your zucchini dish looks delish!

Misha said...

So what's the Persian restaurant? Save us all the trouble of having a crap meal too:)

I am trying my hand at the spicy burger ala Tornado today for the third time and it's the best I have done yet. The amount of jalapeno to beef required is really surprising.

I'll post the recipe once I am done with the lab work, if you are interested.

anonymouseater said...

Sadly, it was Cafe Caspian.

I did not want to mention it because I have fond memories of Cafe Caspian. Years ago, when it was on Hillcroft, I was a regular. But I had not been in over a decade.

The bread is still great, but the other ingredients were disappointing. The restaurant was very crowded this week, so it may have just been one bad night, or two or three bad dishes.

zorra said...

A few weeks ago I tried a recipe from Epicurious that involved grilling zucchini and summer squash, then tossing it with basil, EVOO, balsamic vinegar, and parmesan as a sort of salad. It really glamourized the zucchini! I'll have to investigate the coffee-zucchini connection.

tinyhands said...

I bet that zucchini sauté would be good as a pizza topping. I frequently top a frozen plain cheese pizza with zucchini, marinated artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes, and hearts of palm for a veggie twist.

Sad to hear about Caspian. I was a fan of their Cornish game hen-kabob.

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