My dad’s family’s homeland, Moldova, declared its independence 20 years ago today. I was over the moon when Colin Boswell, who runs The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight gave me two heads of his prized Moldovan Purple garlic. My father’s family fled Moldova at the turn of the 20th century and it’s been an obsession of mine for as long as I can remember. Shortly before my first, long-awaited visit to my ancestral homeland last month, I was chagrined to learn that Moldovan Purple is actually native to Kazakhstan. In The Garlic Farm cookbook, Moldovan Purple is defined as “a warm garlic with real persistence and amazing aroma that makes the best garlic bread.” Here’s The Garlic Farm recipe.
Cheesy Garlic Bread
1/4 lb. (100 g.) butter
3-4 large garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 lb. (100 g). mozzarella
1/4 lb. (100 g.) any hard strong cheese (cheddar works well)
Handful of any combination of fresh parsley, rosemary, basil or marjoram
Paprika for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C). Take all the filling ingredients, place them into a food processor and blend until completely mixed. Cut the bread into diagonal pieces about 2/3 of the way through so the loaf stays intact. Use a flat knife to spread the filling generously in between the slices. Place to the loaf on to a large piece of kitchen foil and wrap loosely sealing the ends and top. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until all the filling is melted. For the last five minutes, you can open the foil, sprinkle on the paprika and brown the top. Serve immediately.
Photo Note: The picture above is of the Moldovan Purple I smuggled from the Isle of Wight to the US and planted in my garden last year. I have a great picture of the garlic bread but it’s on my camera and I’m in Ireland without the necessary attachment. (This will surprise no one who knows me). And sorry about the date stamp — my friend Simon set up my new camera. (This will surprise no one who knows Simon).
I’m off to explore Dublin but alas, that means leaving my amazing room at The Clarence Hotel owned by Bono and The Edge of U2. I have a huge patio with panoramic views of the city and the River Liffey as well as a dining room table for six and (optimistically, for Ireland) two deck chairs for sunbathing.