Everyone hates garlic bread. Waiters hate it because they have to 'sell' it - 'Garlic bread, guys?' (And don't call me 'guys'.) Customers hate it because they dislike having to refuse it when waiters sell it - or its close cousin, 'herb' bread. Chefs hate it because someone has to prepare it and it sure as hell isn't going to be him. Or her. No-one likes garlic bread.
But I do. Because I make it at home. I never order it in cafes. Never have. Cafe garlic bread spoils your appetite. (There is a third kind of garlic bread: supermarket garlic bread. This 'product' is ideal for taking on a picnic to Coburg Lake: you feed it to the ducks while you eat proper food.)
Home-made garlic bread is entirely different. For one thing, it can be just about the entire meal when accompanied with some very good red wine and maybe some cheese. You don't need to cook anything else.
Gourmet supper: sourdough garlic bread.
I chopped six cloves of garlic finely and dropped them into a small bowl - I used a mortar - along with a generous tablespoon of butter, 'generous' in this case meaning two tablespoons. Let's not hold back. You need plenty of butter. Butter is good for you. To the butter and garlic, I added a good dash of coarse-ground black pepper and pounded the lot with the pestle. I spread the butter thickly on three doorstop-size slices of two-day-old very good sourdough bread, stacked them, wrapped the stack in foil, and threw it in the oven.
Then I poured a glass of Jupiter Hill cabernet. The idea is that the bread is ready when you have finished the first glass, or are half-way down one of those giant ones that contain half a bottle. Don't be too slow. You'll burn the bread.
The bread will be steaming when you peel back the foil. The aroma of garlic stewing in salty butter with an undertone of sourdough will hit your nose. A desire to eat immediately will overcome you. Resist and pour another red. You have to savour this. And anyway, you can't stand at the oven and eat. If you prefer a toasted texture, place the baked slices under the grill for half a minute. That's it. Thick, steaming garlic bread and red wine. It makes the perfect late supper, unless you have an early meeting next morning. However, if you are being summoned to a powerpoint presentation, go ahead and eat all the garlic you like. Anyone putting on a powerpoint presentation in the morning deserves to be blown away in a garlic gale.
If you must eat greens with every meal, chop some parsley finely and add to the butter at mortar and pestle stage. Dessert? Easy: spread some good blue cheese at room temperature - any cheese for that matter; Bega Bar-B-Cubes would taste as good - on the last piece, place it under the grill for twenty seconds and eat with the last of the red. Or if you've enough red, accompany it with a Stanton and Killeen port. Garlic bread, bubbling cheese and port. You'll sleep like a baby.
My first father-in-law was a great one for gourmet suppers. After a movie or the theatre he'd have us over for champagne accompanied by thin, crustless toasted bread spread with caviar. Unlike the garlic bread above, this was light; and you could sip cold champagne and crunch delicious salty toast with that curious caviar popping texture for hours. You had to with my first father-in-law. He could talk. He was an amateur thespian. It would be past midnight before you knew it. You'd go to bed happy, and penniless.