I was struggling to find a way to make a Provencal aioli seem local to the South West so I could write about making it.
Aioli is one of the great tastes of the Mediterranean, accompanying everything from salads to fish stews to onion soup to a bowl of chips.
On the face of it the ingredient list is not encouraging for the British climate: garlic, olive oil, eggs and salt.
But a little research, plus a little help from the good people of Twitter, made me realise that it is not so alien a condiment as it may seem.
First of all the obvious ones.
Salt is easy. Cornish Sea salt is one of THE great West Country start-ups of recent years, going from zero to huge mainstream sales in the blink of an eye from a premises on the Lizard. You can get it in supermarkets and lot of fine food stores.
I won’t patronise you over the eggs, there are plenty of good quality free-range eggs around.
Now it gets harder. Or does it?
British garlic? Well yes. The South West Garlic Farm near Bridport in west Dorset, under Mark Botright, has been growing the pungent bulbs for at least 15 years.
Olive oil is a sticking point, no pun intended. Yet there may be an answer. A project is underway to produce a Devon crop of olives for oil. Mark Diacono planted near Honiton in Devon in 2006. Sadly, Mark confirmed this morning that none is yet commercially available.
I suspect (and it is only my view) that the the run of very poor summers prior to this one (touch wood) may not have been kind to the crop, like it has affected so many other harvests.
So we’ve done our best, maybe soon we will be able to make a domestic aioli.
This recipe is from Rick Stein’s Seafood Odyssey book. I picked up a second hand copy at the weekend for £2.50, which is bargain of the year. It makes a good-sized bowlful.
I served it on some sauteed potatoes that went with rump steak we had for tea last night.
A warning though, your breath the next day may well end up being EPIC.
Four cloves of garlic, peeled.
Half a teaspoon of sea salt
One egg yolk (I used a large egg, Rick used a medium)
175ml extra virgin olive oil
Crush the garlic cloves with a big knife. Add the salt and either using the knife, or a pestle and mortar as I did, grind it into a garlic paste,
Spoon mixture into a bowl and add the egg yolk. Whisk it into an emulsion.
A small amount at a time, add the olive oil and whisk it into the mixture.
You should end up with an aioli with the consistency of mayonnaise.