For the past few weeks, garlic scapes have been cropping up on menus throughout the city. An early summer treat, these shoots are the sweeter, mellower off-growth of the more pungent bulbs that come later in the season (cutting them from young plants helps the bulbs grow plumper). But as they are delectable in their own right, scapes have lately found a following from locavore chefs. Below, five ways of the best ways to enjoy scapes in Toronto right now.
Chef Tawfik Shehata is serving Canadian fluke and B.C. spot prawns with a garlic scape and mint dressing. Shehata uses scapes for their mild flavour, but only in early summer when they are in season; in the spring he uses young, green garlic, and by late summer he starts getting fresh, traditional bulbs. His scapes are all from Ontario, sourced from 100km Foods or Kawartha Ecological Growers.
Vertical, 100 King St. W., First Canadian Place, 416-214-2252.
At their newly opened west-end meatery, Scott and Rachelle Vivian are serving pickled scapes as an app with cured pork belly, caraway crackers and house-made mustard. By pickling them, the chefs ensure that the leafy tangles remain sweet without overpowering the protein.
Beast, 96 Tecumseth St., 647-352-6000.
For early summer, chef Kevin McKenna is periodically featuring scapes on his daily changing Canada’s Finest Plate entrée, which highlights the best produce and game from Ontario and the rest of the country. Past interations have included deep-fried scapes, sautéed scapes and a duck breast with blueberry and garlic scape jus. Right now, McKenna is pickling the curly shoots to use in the weeks ahead.
Globe Earth, 1055 Yonge St., 416-551-9890
The midtown Italian restaurant is offering two dishes with curls: on the regular menu, puréed scapes find their way into the sauce for semolina noodles, which come topped with Niagara pancetta, peperoncino, toasted breadcrumbs and extra virgin olive oil; for Summerlicious, green garlic scape noodles are tossed with pork and beef meatballs, porcini mushrooms, mozzarella and peas.
Zucca Trattoria, 2150 Yonge St., 416-488-5774.
Stratford’s famous dairy company is producing nika, an airy sheep’s milk cream cheese blended with finely diced scapes. The shoots leave a hint of garlic in the mouth as well as tiny green flecks in the stark white cheese. Monforte sells its products at farmer’s markets all over Toronto, including the MyMarket at SickKids Hospital, on Tuesdays from 9–2.