1. Heat the olive oil in a pot over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, keeping the heat low so the garlic doesn't burn.
2. Add the milk, bay leaf and cayenne pepper. Increase the heat and bring the milk to a boil.
3. Pour the cornmeal into the hot milk slowly, whisking constantly. After all the cornmeal has been added, cook 3 to 4 minutes more, stirring constantly.
4. Remove the pot from the heat and slowly stir in the grated cheese.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the Wild Mushroom Ragout:
1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
2. Turn the heat to medium-high, add the mushrooms and sauté 2 minutes more.
3. Add the tomatoes, tarragon, salt and pepper. Heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. If using canned tomatoes, simmer for 30 minutes to reduce the acidic taste.
4. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. (This can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
5. To serve, place a portion of polenta on a warm plate and spoon on the mushroom ragout.