Green garlic isn’t really wholly green, just its stalk. Thus, a more accurate name might be baby garlic — because that’s just what it is. Garlic is sown in the fall and mature heads are harvested in early summer. If you pick it prematurely — right about now in New York, for example — you’ll wind up with young garlic, or green garlic, as it is most commonly known. Its flavor is far more mild than its older counterpart, and it is a popular substitute for leeks, onions, or scallions. Creative chefs, however, are taking this ingenue of an aromatic and making it the headliner. Look for it in everything from consomme and creamy soup to flan and risotto. Find out what diners are raving about in recent restaurant reviews — and don’t miss your chance to sample this short-season savory star.
* Angèle Restaurant & Bar, Napa, California: “We had a wonderful meal at Angele. The highlight was my green garlic risotto, which was fabulous.”
* BayWolf, Oakland, California: “Such very pleasant ambiance, service, and an interesting menu. The green garlic flan starter melted in one’s mouth.”
* Bocanova, Oakland, California: “Loved the roasted beets with goat cheese, green garlic, and hazelnuts.”
* Cafe Juanita, Seattle, Washington: “The green garlic flan was a great duck accompaniment. We will definitely be going back for more.”
* Chez Panisse Cafe, Berkeley, California: “I had four exquisite meals at Chez Panisse. One dish, as an example, that I’ll never forget: slivers of baby artichoke and sunchoke, green garlic, olive oil, a hint of lemon, and truffles. So understated, but my dining companion and I stopped talking in order to assimilate and admire the simple genius of this dish.”
* Fish Story, Napa, California: “Beautiful location, great looking menu. The seafood was fresh, and the chilled green garlic soup was very fresh and tasty.”
* Fruition Restaurant, Denver, Colorado: “I started with the green garlic consomme and was blown away by the complex flavors and the little surprises in the dish. I’m not going to go into great detail here because I want you to try it. This was the star of the night for me.”