Tag Archives: garlic

Food Porn: Garlic Knots from Portland’s Bella Faccia

Garlic Knots, Bella Faccia, Portland, Oregon

Now I’m not much of a food porn kind of gal, but as I sat at one of my favorite pizzerias for lunch last week, I realized that the very epitome of my own personal food porn was waiting on the plate before me. The heavenly scent, the doughy texture, enough garlic to fend off a whole hoard of vampires – behold, the glory of garlic knots!

Sure, the quirky Bella Faccia Pizzeria, located on Portland’s northeast side in the Alberta District, is well known for it’s fabulous 18″ round pies, but me, I prefer a decadent plate of bite-sized goodness for my noon-time cravings. The knots, lovingly tied together and served with a red dipping sauce, are perfect with a fresh Caesar salad and the sweet nectar of a Henry Weinhard’s root beer. If you haven’t had a chance to stop in, I encourage you wholeheartedly. And feel free to note your (or your child’s) height on their orange wall as well, where many a past patron has left their mark.

Bella Faccia Pizzeria
2934 NE Alberta St.
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 282-0600

Honey Garlic Ribs

Is there any food that’s better to come home to than ribs? I think not.

The recipe below calls for two separate types of soy sauce. If you live in an area where little to no distinction between light and darks soy sauces, it’s okay to make due with what you have. Luckily, I happen to live in a city with a decent amount of Asian grocery stores, so this was not an issue on my part.

I wish I had something more pithy to say at this point, but c’mon – It’s ribs! What more needs to be said?

  • 4 lbs spare ribs, not yet cut into individual ribs
  • 4 tablespoons clover honey
  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed

In a small bowl, make a marinade by combining the honey, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, the soy sauces, and the garlic.

Place the ribs in a shallow baking dish. Pour the marinade over the ribs. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator. Allow to sit for at least two hours, turning over the ribs once or twice.

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, take a baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil. Place a small rack on the cooking sheet, and then place the ribs upon that rack. Set aside any remaining marinade.

Place the ribs into the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Open the oven and brush the ribs with any remaining marinade. Turn over the ribs and place back into the oven for another 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to sit for five minutes. Cut the ribs into individual pieces and serve.

Serves 4

The Great Chain of Being

A ha! I knew if I dug around enough I would find an answer to why garlic was not deified in the past (as I initially believed). The information came from the book “Da Vinci’s Kitchen: The Secret History of Italian Cuisine” by Dave Dewitt.

Back in the day (the day being any time between the height of the Roman Empire to the time of the Renaissance), there was this belief system of hierarchal links, from which one could map base elements all the way up to God. In between was found the entirety of the world, with each animal, vegetable, mineral and all things divine given a certain status. The Divine was given the highest status, while mineral, not having a spirit, let alone a growth cycle or an appetite, was given the lowest status.

Within each of those divisions, further rankings were made, based off of their relation to the chain. Items that stayed closer to the earth (root vegetables, shellfish) were seen as “less divine” than items that were closer to God. Birds who could fly were seen as a noble food, while ducks and geese (who tended to hang out in the water) were seen as “less noble”. Fruits that grew high in the trees were viewed in a better light than the vegetables that grew closer to (and often in) the ground. As you can imagine, these rankings affected the choices that some made when eating. Garlic and Onions (and later potatoes) were seen in the same light then as we see Wonder Bread and Velveeta Cheese sandwiches today – They were eaten if that was all that was available, but a person’s status would be better determined if their diet consisted of grapes, pigeons and spices (which were somehow excluded from this chain due to their exotic status and the cost associated with their procurement).

So why was garlic looked down upon? Because it was a food that didn’t bring a person closer to divinity. Thus it became prevalent within the diet of the lower classes, which in turn further alienated it from those with the power to influence.

The above should be read as a rough generalization of the process as a whole, as there were undoubtedly nuances and exceptions that I (and others) have yet to discover. But as a guideline into European food anthropology, it’s a great starting point.

History of Garlic

I realize I shouldn’t be surprised by this revelation, but I am – the history of garlic is similar to that of the history of onions.

Leaving aside for the moment that fact that my shock bespeaks of my total food obsession and commits me to a life of geekdom from here on out, I really thought that the history of garlic would be a tad more mysterious. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I had equated garlic with mana itself.

But no, it’s just another vegetable. Probably descendant from the wild garlic from Central Asia, it appears in Indian and Egyptian records as far back as 5000 years ago. The Chinese noted it around 2000 years ago, and probably used it far earlier than that. It was only about 1000 years ago when different varieties of the stuff appeared on the scene.

Much like the onion, garlic was praised for it’s purported medicinal effects. The bitterness and the odor (mostly from the sulfur compounds found within) were used to both curse and bless, with the “garlic vs. vampire” folk tale being only one of many examples.

The bulb was also associated with the poor of various cultures. Pyramid builders were given garlic as part of their rations. When threatening to abandon the partially built pyramids, their garlic rations were increased.

The French referred to garlic as Thériaque des pauvres, which translates to “Theriac of the poor”. In the Middle Ages, “theriac” was an expensive of herb when spices and other “medicinal” ingredients were used in attempts to cure many ailments. Since the poor could not afford a wide range of these herbs and spices, their medicine cabinet consisted of garlic.

Garlic’s current popularity is a recent trend. The gourmets of America and Europe looked down upon the bulb as peasant food for a considerable time. It was a vegetable to be used only by immigrants.

In my household, garlic is ever present, mostly because of my predilection for Italian food and Tara’s for Chinese.

The next few weeks here on Accidental Hedonist will be devoted to garlic, with recipes, trivia and other similar posts.

The Great Garlic Experiment: a photo essay.

This week, I found myself faced with a recipe that called for fifteen intact cloves of peeled garlic. And as I cursed and picked papery skin off fifteen freakin’ cloves of garlic, I figured there had to be a better way.

And, seeing as I’m a bit of a geek for life hacks, I couldn’t just pick any method of peeling garlic; I had to know the best one.


Spaghetti con aglio, olio, e peperoncino

Also known as Spaghetti with Garlic, Oil, and Peperoncino.

This is one of those recipes that restores my faith in Italian food. It’s so simple, yet so completely satisfying that it makes me blissful. Infusing the oil with the heat of the peppers and the warmth of garlic makes the pasta sublime, especially when you grate a bit of parmesan cheese atop.

Good god, do I love Italian food.

  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 peperoncino, dried or fresh
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 teaspoons red chile pepper flakes (optional)

Boil the spaghetti as per instructions on box.

While the pasta is cooking, place 1/4 olive oil into skillet and bring up to medium heat. Add the garlic and peperoncino and allow to brown. Lower heat to a simmer and continue cooking until the pasta is done.

When the pasta is complete drain it completely. Remove the garlic and peppers from the heated oil, and replace it with the pasta and parsley. Coat throroughly and then season with chili flakes, salt and pepper.

Serves 4 to 6

tags technorati : recipes Italian Food Pasta

Skinless Garlic

Those jars of minced garlic are a waste of time. They are either lacking in flavor, soupy, or oftentimes both. So those of us who cook regularly go about our ways, buying garlic in cloves, the skin still intact. Skin, I should add, that is also difficult to remove at times.

Mark Bittman extols the virtue of skinless cloves of garlic. People have been working on selling garlic this way for several years, but haven’t found a proper way to remove the garlic skins without ruining the garlic.

Until now. A worker was cleaning a warehouse with an air hose, saw a coffee can with garlic in it, and sprayed some of the compressed air into the can. The peels came flying right off. So now high-pressure air is blown onto cloves in stainless steel buckets. That’s it; there are no preservatives, and the garlic is packed in ordinary jars.

Personally, I’m going to with hold judgement on skinless garlic until I get a chance to use it myself. But, garlic freak that I am, this could open up new worlds of cooking. Imagine being able to use ten, twenty, even thirty cloves of garlic in a single dish of, say, roast chicken. Imagine garlic soup! Oh, my heart is all aflutter.