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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Bacon fry bread with fermented garlic

I hit the snooze button at 4:30 a.m. and it scratched me. I smacked it again 10 minutes later, hoping to get just another moment of respite, when it hissed and pounced off of my chest. Mayhap I wasn’t drumming the snooze button at all.
There is nothing that will get you out of bed quicker than an irritable mouser reminding you exactly who is in charge of the den, especially when your own wits are dimmed by a poor night’s sleep. Today was a big day as it was time to go back to Baltimore for an important meeting, so I had to make sure not to fall back into slumber.
As my feline timekeeper is more reliable than my phone – the latter being a tool that mysteriously renders itself to vibrate every night at midnight so that I can’t hear it – I was up and ready to go before the misses had a chance to turn the light on. Two points for the little bastard.
After a successful, but tiring roundtrip to Mob Town, Julie and I ended up back in the hood, with her settled in for a nice summer nap and me running kids around, stopping by to see Pino at Sello’s (man, I love that place) and then stopping by Gilbert’s Provisions to hold Toby up to his end of the deal. It was time to hold him to the fire.
Toby and I have known each other for a few years now, and if you don’t know him or what he does, just know that he’s pretty darned good with food, and he has the pedigree to prove it. His knowledge of and experience with uber-cool things such as pickling, fermenting, curing, pâtés, charcuterie, cheeses et al place him at the peak of the industry, which is brimming with the matter at present.
Having recently opened Gilbert’s Provisions in downtown Berlin, Toby is sure to let me know when he has some interesting stuff brewing. When we worked the Atlantic General Hospital gala a month or so ago, he was bragging about his four-year old fermented garlic, and I made him assure me that he would make me something with it. As much as I love most things fermented (no room here to discuss fermented sea urchin; I’ll save that for another day), I had never tried fermented garlic.
Since Mr. Gilbert happened to have some on hand today, so it would be that the challenge was set.
After seeing his post yesterday about a fresh batch of Duroc bacon, I knew even more so that it was time to get some grub out of the guy. While he’s not in the a la carte business yet (he’s working on it, I believe) I talked him into making something simple to show off his fermented garlic, something that I’ve never messed with before but rest assured, it will be adorning our refrigerator soon enough.
What Toby came up with, in-between customers, was a bacon-fry bread with local heirloom green tomatoes, cucumbers and chives in a fermented garlic salsa. It was sublime, simple and hosted an array of complex flavors that made it hearty yet summer-fresh all in one bite. Sometimes the notability of dish is best found in its simplicity; if well-cared for ingredients are put together in a thoughtful manner, extraordinary things can happen.
But I know you might still be scratching your head on the fermented garlic. I’ve heard of things like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and the likes, but fermented garlic was new to me. Apparently, it couldn’t be easier to start yourself on the road of fermenting garlic and I will leave you to your devices (literally) to figure out which step is best for you. Of course, yours won’t taste as good as Toby’s for four years, so if you want that intensity, you may have to contact him to see if he’s willing to part with some.
With flavor development similar to that of remouillage (Remi) over time, you will have the garlic of all garlics.
And with a belly full of probiotics from the fermented garlic, it’s time to hit the rack. I just have to make sure that I remember to set my cat.
Toby’s Bacon Fry Bread
four pieces
3 ounces Raw sourdough
3 slices Duroc Bacon
1 Heirloom green tomato
1/4 cucumber, seeded but skin is optional
2 Tbsp. Fermented garlic in oil (Sourced at Gilbert’s)
splash Sherry vinegar (optional)
Coarse salt and pepper
Minced chives, for garnish

Slowly heat bacon slices to release fat and raise the temperature so that you get that beautiful crisp on it
Remove to paper towel
Make sure bacon fat is on a medium heat so you don’t burn the bread
Similar to Navajo fry bread, which I have written about in the past, simply flatten your dough ball and fry until crispy on one side, flip and finish cooking. You will have all of the flavor of that beautiful bacon, a crispy exterior, and a spongy-sour interior
Top the bread with slices of bacon
Dice and combine cucumber, fermented garlic and sherry vinegar (if using) so that you have a salsa-like substance
Top your bread with this and garnish with chives
Cut into equal pieces and serve … if there’s any left after you carry it to the table