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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Holy Garlic Varietals (Batman)!

I love garlic.

And, unlike oh so many other really-good-for-you vegetables, this one I've enjoyed as far back as I can remember. If you know me, you'll know that there were many vegetables I couldn't quite appreciate in my youth; but garlic, I have always loved.

Well, for such a long love affair, you'd think I would know more about this delicious, bulbing root.  I mean, I know how to cook it up in several ways, and I know how to eat it up in even more ways... but that's about as far as it went.

It is garlic season here in Ontario.

I went to a garlic festival over the weekend, and damn if there wasn't a lot of info about garlic; I suppose I would have been disappointed otherwise.

Anyway, I learned a lot about planting, growing, harvesting, storing, braiding, preparing, and consuming garlic.

But, today, I just want to talk about the sheer volume of VARIETALS out there.

Sure, I'd experimented with about three or four different kinds of garlic, available locally at my grocer or even a few imported to specialty food stores... but I had no idea that there were so many varieties of garlic.

Technically, there are only about 10 distinct varieties, but there are literally hundreds of sub-varieties (cultivars) within these 10 overarching categories!!!!

I really did get lost among the definitions of hard-necked vs. soft-necked, Asian vs. European, Artichoke vs. Silverwhite, Porcelain vs. Puple Striped, Creole vs. Rocambole... and so on.

I tried to listen to as much of the lectures, and to pick up as much literature, as I could, but as I left, I felt still woefully ignorant.

What I did feel great about though, in leaving, was the samples I brought home.  Decidedly few, to be sure, but they were all I could purchase in good conscience for one trip; truly, even for a garlic-lover like myself, ten bulbs is more than I could safely store before anything started to spoil.

Despite the poor overall representation of my samples, I did try to get as much variety as possible within those ten bulbs.

I bought a few mild, a few spicy, and a few purported as being unparalleled in pungency.


Here are some pics:

I've arranged them according to (what I remember, at any rate, could be a little off on one or two) potency.  Music being the mildest, and the Blanak being the strongest (of these, anyway).

I bought multiples of each of the three strongest varietals there, and have already tried a couple.

In fact, the wife and I made a meal of roasting up a couple bulbs (along with some fresh crostini, some truffled pecorino, and some fresh dancing-with-smurfs tomatoes).  

I was anxious to try the Blanak.  Of course, when roasting, the spiciness gets mellowed considerably but it was still a very flavourful garlic.

Anyway, I will definitely be experimenting with these over the course of the next few weeks!

Here are a couple more styled shots of them:

Also, I took some close-ups of each type, and I'll include them here, starting again, with the Music.







Oh... and I bought some shallots too.  They were three for a dollar.  :)


I'm going to try really hard to make a variety of garlic-heavy dishes over the next little while.  And, no I won't just roast them all.  

I'm thinking I might try making some Sopa de Ajo, a Spanish garlic soup that I tried from a vendor there at the festival, and really enjoyed.  Although I'll probably make it vegan as the chunks of pork hock that were in mine were not super awesome.