Way back in 2009 while living & working in London, my delightful colleagues and I embarked on a team night out to Garlic & Shots, a restaurant in Soho that serves no meal without said ingredient. I recall ordering a pasta dish (the sauce of which was absolutely piled with the spicy white clove) and washing it down with a garlic beer before rounding off the feast with a huge bowl of garlic ice cream. That’s not to mention the shot of garlic honey vodka we sampled in the Swedish gothic metal bar below the dining room. I never thought I’d ever experience so much garlic in one sitting again.
Well, I’m pleased to announce today was the day I broke my garlic consumption personal best by a long shot, thanks to the Toronto Garlic Festival. Held annually at the picturesque Don Valley Brickworks, the festival celebrates the harvest of garlic throughout the province of Ontario. With around 80 exhibitors taking part in this year’s festival, punters were spoilt for choice when it came to the sheer variety of the bulb available for purchase, garlic-themed cooking demonstrations and garlic-inspired culinary delights – both savoury and sweet.
My afternoon at the event began at the garlic sampling booth, where friendly festival staff spent their time peeling & crushing ‘shots’ of raw Ontarian garlic into the hands of whoever dared to try. There was also lemon & parsley on hand to add some zest to the fiery mouthful.
I took a shot and explored the busy marketplace a little, eventually settling upon a cup of this delicious 4,000 Clove Organic Garlic Soup – the first of what was to be many samples of garlicy cuisine throughout the day. It wasn’t overpowering at all; the ingredients were perfectly balanced. I wish I asked them for the recipe.
I felt extra macho and went back for a second shot of raw garlic.
Such garlicy mess!
One of the many farmers stalls set up to celebrate Ontarian garlic. These guys were from the Brant Country Garlic Company:
Who ever thought garlic braiding was a thing?
I tried a gourmet corn tortilla – this included beans, cheese, greens and salsa on a freshly-cooked tortilla full of roasted garlic within the dough. The garlic flavour wasn’t all that prominent, but the wrap was altogether well worth the $4 I spent on it.
Man, it was busy. There was a much greater turnout than I ever could have expected there to be at a garlic festival.
Next on the menu was a light refreshment in the way of a black garlic truffle from Laura Slack Chocolate Artist. Weren’t these just divine! I bought two of them; the sweet relish of the infused syrup proved nowhere near as intimidating as their black skull-like appearance.
Morgan’s On The Danforth were putting on a cooking demonstration so I stopped by to watch for a few minutes. They were serving up a pasta dish using five different vegetables (plus garlic, of course). I didn’t get to try any but it looked pretty fancy:
Here’s a Roasted Garlic Elk & Lamb Pie from Globe Bistro:
Of all the recipes on offer, I was most excited about trying the garlic coffee from Incredible Spice, especially seeing as it was described as a warm garlic infused spiced coffee with maple cream and pumpkin vanilla dust. It was in hot demand located right by the market’s entrance, taking nearly 10 minutes to get my hands on a serving. Although it sounded incredible in theory, I instead quickly concluded that garlic is not likely to become a staple ingredient in my coffee any time soon.
The friendly folk at Cedar Grove Organic Farm suggested a bulb of Ontario Music Garlic as an ingredient in my spaghetti bolognese sauce (which I have since cooked and thoroughly enjoyed):
I went back to the sample booth for my third and final shot of garlic. My mouth hurt a little after devouring that one.
I wasn’t finished yet though – for dessert, I couldn’t go past a serving of Magic Oven’s Garlic Apple French Toast with Crème Fraîche. I think I was becoming desensitised to the flavour of garlic by now. The French Toast was indeed as appetising as it looked, but I could barely make out the spice in amongst the sweetness.
By this stage I was pretty well garliced out. I was ready to call it a day… and then I saw Le Dolci’s garlic macaroons. Wow.
Ok, I totally would have gone the ice cream as well but it sold out by the time I made it to the stall 🙁
Tony V was easily winning the Ontario Science Centre garlic breath contest with a reading of 17 parts hydrogen sulphide per billion! I wanted to try it out but it took 10 minutes to recalibrate the machine after every use, and there was already a substantial line up.
The many varieties of garlic on offer throughout the marketplace:
What a great idea for a festival that was. I fully encourage other cities around the globe to take inspiration from Toronto and put on their own garlic festival.
I may be all garliced out right now, but I’ll definitely come back next year for more 😀