This past weekend was the 9th annual Connecticut Garlic + Harvest Festival at the Bethlehem Fairgrounds in Bethlehem, CT. This years festival featured over 200 vendors, crafts, rides, a zip line and, well, tons of fresh garlic and produce, garlic specialty food vendors, garlic food court, garlic growing lectures, garlic cooking demonstrations and live entertainment.
The garlic I bought at last year's festival was the best I've ever grown, so there was no way I was going to miss out. This year I stocked up on three varieties: German Red, Russian Red and Musik.
I cannot wait to get these suckers into the ground. I should be rolling in beautiful heads of garlic next year.
Beyond all the fresh garlic, there were so many terrific vendors. Here are just a few highlights.
Savor (Watertown, CT). These savory, sweet, buttery and unique-flavored biscuits are amaze-balls! We literally sampled every variety possible and it was a real challenge to settle on which flavors we would buy. Luckily you can buy them in various retail stores around CT and, of course, online at www.savorfinefoods.com. Definitely check 'em out. I know I'll be ordering soon!
The Humble Bee Honey Co. (Watertown, CT). Beauty care products, honey and bee pollen. Catherine Wolko is a passionate bee-keeper who has been getting lots of local media attention. She learned her skills from her father as a child growing up in Naugatuck. I seem to have a hard time finding local bee pollen so I jumped at the chance to buy a bottle. For more info about her bees, products and retailers, visit her website www.humblebeehoneycompany.com or hit her up on Facebook.
Can't Beet It (South Windsor, CT). I do make my own beet relish but this beet and horseradish mix was pretty darn good. We, of course, loved the hot variety. It has a nice horseradish kick. I thought it would be fun to have on hand for sausages or kielbasa. To find a retailer near you visit www.cantbeetit.com.
When it came time to venture to the garlic food court we decided to share everything. This way we could sample more things.
Block Factory Tamales (Germantown, NY). This is a real "mom-and-pop" business from upstate NY. You can tell right away that these tamales are handmade with love. The base is made with garlic roasted corn, fresh vidalia onions and a mixture of butter and vegetable shortening.
Up 'til now you could only find these tamales at upstate NY farmers markets like Rhinebeck, Kingston and Woodstock or at area festivals. Now, you don't need to make a special trip, you can order them online at www.blockfactorytamales.com. They come fresh and shrink wrapped, shipped via ground delivery every Monday and Wednesday or by special order.
Lemongrass Grill (Millerton, NY). Tender chicken and crunchy vegetables made this Bahn Mi from Lemon Grass Grill a winner.
These folks are a mobile food vendor working fairs and festivals in the NY/CT area. Unlike most fair food they make a point to use fresh ingredients. I love this line from their Facebook page: "We implore you to come and find us at an event and let us show you that 'Good Food' can be found at a fair." Indeed!
Spacey Tracy (Rhinebeck, NY). This food vendor always has a line. In addition to selling artisan gourmet pickles they serve up cheesy artichoke hearts, roasted garlic bulbs on toothpicks and deep-fried pickles. This year we decided we just had to wait in line for a basket of those roasted fried garlic cloves.
Wow. Totally worth it. Creamy, rich and sweet. I think this snack alone is why we may still be tasting garlic. (Most likely smelling like it too.)
Avid Concessions (Bethlehem, CT). Like last year, to end our afternoon we had some garlic ice cream. The garlic is roasted and dried so it's crunchy. We had both the vanilla flavor and the pistachio flavor.
They say the pistachio has a more mild garlic taste, but we must have gotten an especially garlicky batch. We had no problem finishing off both flavors in record time.
All in all it was a garlic lovers dream weekend!
Photos by Renato Ghio