Garlic, did somebody mention Garlic? I would seriously like to understand how many people don’t like Garlic rather than those that do. This bulb of treasure can range from a slight sweetness to a full on pungent ‘Stay out of my way’ stench. Perfect for anyone you that you don’t want to impress! I want to share a recent experience upon a visit to the ever majestic Isle of Wight, which included a little stop off at the Garlic Farm in Sandown.
I have visited the Isle of Wight with my family ever since I can remember! Based just off of the south coast of England and easily commutable via Ferries from either Southampton or Portsmouth, this little island really is a gem and by heck it has some cracking produce. I don’t see how anyone could argue with good food, lovely beaches, stacks of imagination and engagement for the kiddies plus the vast history with Dinosaurs and Pirates!
Garlic has its very own rights to claim within the history books and can be traced back to plenty of historical civilisations including the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egpytions and Ancient China – This shows how multiple cultures and civilisations over different time periods have enjoyed common ground for various reasons (I will refer to common ground a lot! We all have more in common than not and food is a fantastic connection between us).
This pungent little beauty has been used to fend off vampires (cue Buffy the vampire slayer), Hung above doors to keep away nasty and naughty spirits, used by gladiators to improve health and endurance which goes hand in hand for when Chinese doctors would of prescribed the little cloves to help in certain intimacy cases, move over Viagra there is a new player in town – or should I say an old player making a come back…
“Garlic as fresh and sweet as a babies breath.”Nigel Slater, Notes from the larder: A kitchen diary with recipes
The day of our visit to the Garlic Farm started with me waking up feeling pretty crap. I had a head full of congestion and all four of us didn’t feel to great! I could only guess that being away on an unspoilt beach front was detoxifying all of that wonderful London pollution that we are so grateful for! I always look to the same principle ingredients when I feel the cold strike which is Ginger, Chilli and Garlic.
Today I would be skipping the morning tea or the usual hot chocolate (unless dossed with the lip tingly and eye consuming Ghost Pepper). I rolled out from our bed and hunted down Munching Mummy. She was in the living room surprisingly enough feeding Munching Milk who somehow has the ability to command food at his beck and call. Why screaming and kicking never works for commanding my dinner, I will never know! I made sure the house was fully aware that today, this man will need some help and on that note we then planned a venture to the Garlic Farm. I really would love to see some scientific evidence of why us poor men suffer so much more with these colds.
Man Flu – An illness that causes the man to be helpless and sicker than any other family member. In females, a common cold…
We soon arrived at the Garlic Farm which we last visited some 6 years ago and already in such time there has been so much change and growth! The Farm is family run and has been centred around family traditions, cracking produce and passion for garlic! The tranquil location keeps you focused on the farm and its surroundings which allows for time to unwind and relax in the setting.
There is plenty to do around the farm including a walk or tractor tour of the farm itself (run on specific days and run in peak periods) which allows you to see the many various strains of garlic grown here, a farm shop selling all of the produce, a garlic tasting experience which is wonderful, play areas for the munchkins and of course the ever popular restaurant serving fresh local produce.
When we arrived, there was no messing about. I was feeling ropey and our bellies required filling! We was seated straight away and our amazingly manouravable push chair was accomadated with ease (mind your backs people). The Menu was sitting on the top awaiting our command and the game was on! I wanted to eat pretty much everything and with such variety choosing is always a difficult choice. You want to make sure its worth it and no slip ups occur, which always reminds me of poor John Terry in the champions league final (apologies to non football fans).
What do you do when there is just too many choices to make? Well the lovely people at the Garlic farm have clearly heard this before, so in turn they created a very thoughtful and mouth watering garlic mezze for two! One look to munching mummy with the famous reaffirmation nod and that ever endearing finger pointing to the spot on the menu and the game was on.
Wait… was that Garlic Beer on the menu? I know that the man flu at this point is really settling in but surely the garlic in the beer would be more beneficial that the alcohol at this point? Why on earth am I debating this in my mind and who cares, I ordered one anyway. The taste was an extremely subtle garlic to begin with and tapered off through the drink however was an easy drinker that complimented our choices pretty well.
I have to say, the pictures or words wouldn’t do this the full respect it deserved. The aromas on the plate are the first to catch you and it rumbles my belly just typing about it! The variety on the plate went from salty to sweet and crunchy and did they slow roast a whole bulb of Garlic and present it on the side of the platter to be drizzled with oil and spread across some toasted bread – You bet they did. The horseradish and garlic dip was a bit of a surprise too with a very unexpecting kick to the back of the throat rounded off with “just one more dip of that just to see if I like it” by which time it had all gone…
This is my favourite type of eating, especially when all of us can share and enjoy the various tastes on offer, you would be surprised with the variety in the garlic itself. I get so much joy when Munching Menace finds a new flavour or combination that she enjoys (just keep your fingers off the horseradish dish- Yikes)
When we finished up, we spent some time within the tasting experience. This is a lovely little setup and a good commercial idea to try all of the produce ranges on offer before purchasing. There is no hard sales here – the team on the farm really are passionate and they all know an incredible amount about both the farm and the garlic. We had the pleasure of spending time with Stefan who introduced me to the joys on black garlic!
Stefan notices that unfortunately I am suffering a little with man flu (he had clearly been a sufferer before) and asks if I had ever tried black garlic? Tracing back my thoughts, maybe I had tried it, however it would of been mixed with other ingredients and as we was talking, he begun unwrapping a bulb and eventually popped out a couple of cloves. I gave it a go and was really shocked that the flavour starts off fairly sweet, almost balsamic like with a slow linger of garlic on the tongue. I loved it! Munching Mummy, not so much! Munching Menace, well you would of thought that we destroyed her entire collection of Peppa Pig in one swoop, clearly not a fan.
The whole deal with black garlic started out in Korea, in which I had been informed that the purpose behind the process was to release antioxidants and increase lifespan and health. Then this was more recently adopted in the western world as a culinary feature to higher end recipes. Needless to say that I left with some. We have done some taste testing of our own with families and friends who have popped over and so far it is a bit like marmite. All of the products from the farm can be ordered online (note, I don’t receive any referral fee’s etc) at http://www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk.
It was a lovely experience and I always enjoy trying new foods and concepts and I would say if anyone is in the area then it is worth a visit even to try the various garlic on offer or spending some time in the Garlic education centre (which is great for both adult and children education).
Garlic has a lot to offer from a culinary perspective however throughout history the health benefits are raved about. So as a separate cover, I will be exploring these potential health benefits and sharing any of my findings and remember just like Buffy to always keep some garlic tucked away!
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