Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Stratford Garlic Festival


Back in the first weekend of September, I took my son to the Stratford Garlic Festival.

 

I had been meaning to go to this festival for several years but I was either too busy or I would completely forget about it until garlic planting time was just around the corner and, of course, the festival was long over by that point.  Well, this year I finally made it out…and it was well worth it.

My son is only 9 but he is a garlic hound – loves the stuff.  Every once in a while he even asks to have a bit of raw garlic, likely due to my dad’s influence - he has eaten raw garlic at least once a day for as long as I can remember.  And when I or my mom make vinaigrette with a clove of lightly crushed garlic floating around in it (it gives the vinaigrette a wonderful, yet mild garlic flavour) he calls dibs on the garlic…never fails to make me smile ;)

J & I had a great time touring all the vendors and the weather was perfect that day.

Stratford Garlic Festival
 
There was garlic, of course, but there were also many other interesting vendors including this one that sold these wacky little chests right out of Whoville –
 
Wonky Chest
 
They are all hand crafted and yes, those drawers are completely functional.  I have no idea how much the large chest cost but it must have been a mint as the small “wonky boxes” which were only about 9” tall were selling for anywhere from $165 (for the multi-coloured ones) to $400 (the 2nd from the right):
 
Wonky Boxes - Beautiful but Pricey
 
They also had a couple of honest to goodness blacksmiths there.  These guys do metal crafting in their spare time and it was just fascinating to watch them heat up the metal and create something beautiful in a matter of minutes.

My son loved watching them and decided that he wanted to get one of their creations with his own money.  He picked a forged, twisted “spike” type of thing (for a key chain) that cost $5.  Not being overly keen on a 9 year old walking around with a pointy spike, I asked them if they has something similar, but with a rounded point.  They didn’t but offered to make one just for him at the same price.  J was thrilled.  Not only did he get his very own, custom piece, but he was also able to see it being created.
 
Blacksmith Busy with J's Curly Spike
 
 
J's Hand Forged Curly Spike
 
There was an “Iron Chef” type of competition.  Although I’m not much for watching this type of stuff on tv, watching it live is a totally different experience.
 
Preparing for Garlic Chef Competition
 
I snapped a shot of the finished dishes – of course, the feature ingredient was garlic.  Both teams did well on the main dishes & sides, but the desserts were “interesting” according to the judges.  Too bad only the judges were able to taste the dishes - they smelled amazing.
 
Garlic Chef Competition - Final Dishes


Garlic Chef Competition - Final Dishes
 
But what everyone is really there for is the garlic.  There were a couple of presentations about growing garlic – both were very informative.  One speaker in particular – Bryan Mailey - was both informative and hilarious – a great mix!

There were also numerous garlic vendors and I visited every single one.  Of course, I ended up buying a couple more varieties than I had planned, 5 in total - Music, Portugal I, Duganski, Pitarelli, and Sweet Candy.  I will get into the specifics when I do a garlic planting post later this week.

All in all, a worthwhile and fun experience.  I will probably be going back every few years or so, unless my son pesters me to go back more frequently, which is highly likely.
 
Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

6 comments:

  1. Good idea with the "curled" spike--I agree--something pointy and a young fella---no!
    :D
    Looks like a fun time. I admire your being able to hold off with 5 varieties. I lose it at things like this----so dear hubby keeps the reins on!

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    1. It wasn't so much restraint as lack of cash - I don't generally carry around that much cash on me, preferring to use debit, and everything from the admission to the food, drinks and garlic (of course!) was cash only with no ATM in sight. It was actually quite funny as my son & I stood there counting up quarters for that last bulb of garlic. Next time, I'll come better prepared!

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  2. I love that fact that your son is a garlic geek! I didn't tast garlic until I was old enough to do my own cooking, my dad didn't like garlic so my mom never used it. Boy, am I not a chip off the old block in that respect. I've got 4 varieties to plant this year.

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    1. My husband also grew up in a garlicless family - now he knows what he was missing and, like you, loves it! I'm really looking forward to hearing about the varieties you are planting. I still can't get over the huge bulbs you got this year...they were just incredible.

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  3. I now qualify for senior discounts, but I still have enough kid in me to CRAVE one of those wonky boxes. The Grinch was and still is my favorite Christmas special.

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    1. Those wonky boxes are lovely, aren't they? And ditto on the Grinch - the 60's classic only, of course!

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