Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Silver Spring Farm Garlic Fundraiser

** UPDATE: The garlic sold out on Sunday, August 5th. **

Silver Spring Farm opened their gates today for the start of their 16th annual 'Choose Your Own Garlic' fundraiser. This fundraiser is in support of the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OCAPDD).

Their sale hours are from 10:00 am to 6 pm every day, until they sell out.

Silver Spring Farm is located near Bells Corners at 3501 Richmond Road, where it meets up with Baseline Road.

For this garlic season they planted 40,000 cloves of garlic. The dry weather worked in their favour. Not only was it a faster growing season by 3 weeks, the harvesting was not as onerous for pulling and cleaning because of the drier soil. Of the 40,000 heads harvested, about 8 to 10,000 are kept as seed for next year.

They grew both Music and Majestic garlic. They are both Hardneck garlic and belong to the sub-group Porcelain. My eye is not keen enough to tell them apart. Music is likely the most popular garlic grown in Ontario.

Liz Primeau, author of In Pursuit of Garlic, has this to say when describing these two cultivars.

"Music: A strong, dependable grower brought from Italy and now seen frequently at fairs in parts of Canada. Its big cloves are hot and pungent when raw, mellow when baked, although texture isn't as creamy as that of some other cultivars."

"Majestic: Developed in eastern Ontario. A lovely big bulb with good-sized cloves and a full garlicky taste."

Once the garlic is cleaned, they go through an orderly process for sorting the garlic by size. This simple block has the stalk fed down through the channel of finishing nails from the widest to the narrowest part of the device. The garlic head stops at its measured width of 2 up to 6. If the garlic head pulls all the way through, it is considered a '1'.

The larger heads are priced at $3 and $4 each.

The smaller heads are sold in groups, 3 for $2 or 2 for $3.

They also grouped the very smallest together in bunches for $4. I counted one of the bunches and it had 10 small bulbs.

They also sell pretty arrangements and braids.

Their raffle this year is for a very large braid. Tickets are $2 each for 3 for $5.

I stuck to the 2 for $3 table and picked up a number of heads, some destined to be mailed to our darling son.

Readers can call the Garlic Hotline at 613-569-8993 ext. 409 for updates on the sale and also to confirm their hours of operation.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ontario Garlic - Let the Festivals Begin

By my estimation, in the summer of 2011 I purchased 88 heads of garlic to get me through to the 2012 harvest. A harvest that is almost 3 weeks early this year, considering the unseasonably warm weather we have been experiencing here in Ontario.

I purchased my collection of garlic from 9 different farms across the province, mostly at farmers' markets and roadside stands. And there were 7 heads from my Roots and Shoots Farm CSA share baskets. It was dutifully stored in my cool dry basement, well spaced and with reasonable air circulation. It did very, very well up to the beginning of June. That is impressive, considering most of the bulbs were the hardneck porcelain Music variety, the most popular garlic grown in Ontario, but not the longest lasting.

Loving all things garlic, at the beginning of May I picked up Liz Primeau's latest book called In Pursuit of Garlic: An Intimate Look at the Divinely Odorous Bulb, released in the spring. Happily, Liz will be at most of the large Ontario festivals this year.

We are nearing that time when the Garlic Festivals are about to start. Here is a comprehensive list, and perhaps the most complete, of well-known Ontario garlic festivals and large sales.

The garlic at Silver Spring Farm will be going on sale Tuesday, July 24 at their location at 3501 Richmond Road (where Richmond meets Baseline Road on the edge of Bells Corners). Readers can call the Garlic Hotline at 613-569-8993 ext. 409 for updates. This is the 16th year for the annual 'Choose Your Own Garlic' fundraiser. Last year their 30 - 40,000 heads sold out in less than a week. ** UPDATE: The last of the garlic sold out on Sunday, August 5. **

The 15th annual Perth Garlic Festival will be held August 11 and 12 at the Perth Fairgrounds, starting at 9:00 am. Admission to the festival is $5.

  • Liz Primeau, author of 'In Pursuit of Garlic' will give a talk called Garlic Reborn at 9:30 am on Saturday and again at 10:00 am on Sunday. (I am re-reading her book right now!)
  • Lynn Ogryzlo, food and wine writer, and author of 'Niagara Cooks' and 'The Ontario Table' will also be there.


Also this weekend is the 13th annual Carp Farmers' Market Garlic Festival. It starts at 8 am on Saturday and 10 am on Sunday at the Carp Fairgrounds. It ends both days at 3 pm. Of the 100 vendors at their Farmers' Market, 30 will be selling garlic and garlic related products. Free admission and free parking.
HEADLINER: There will be Celebrity Chefs from Alice's Village Cafe, Bistro 54 and Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar.

AUGUST 18 (Old Chelsea):
Marché Old Chelsea Market will celebrate its 2nd annual Garlic Festival, Saturday August 18. Although on the Quebec side, I included this festival since it is so close to me and many of my readers.

AUGUST 18 (Newmarket):
If you are interested in traveling further afield this summer, Newmarket's 'Garlic Is Great Festival' is on Saturday, August 18 from 8 am to 1 pm downtown on Doug Duncan Drive. Free admission. Rain or shine.

AUGUST 25 (Haliburton County):
The Haliburton County Garlic Growers are hold their 5th annual Garlic Fest on Saturday, August 25 located at Carnarvon Bowl at at Hwy 35 & Hwy 118 in Carnarvon. 9 am to 3 pm.

AUGUST 26 (Sudbury):
Sudbury has laid claim to the ORIGINAL Canadian Garlic Festival. This year is the 21st annual and their event will take place on Sunday, August 26th from Noon until 4 pm at 30 Notre Dame Ave, Hnatyshyn Park. It began in 1991 and it's a major source of fundraising for the Ukrainian Seniors Centre. No surprise that you will be able to get a taste of cabbage rolls and perogies. Admission is $2.

SEPTEMBER 1 (Verona):
6th Annual Verona Lions Garlic Festival will take place Saturday, September 1st from 9 am to 2 pm. Entry and parking are free. The event is being held at the Verona Lions Centre, 4504 Verona Sand Road, 20 minutes north of Kingston on Road 38. Since you are so close, consider heading to Seed to Sausage at 12821 Highway 38. Seed to Sausage is open from from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturdays.

SEPTEMBER 8 (North Bay):
New to the North Bay Farmers' Market this year will be a Garlic Festival on Saturday, September 8th. The market is on 200 McIntyre Street and runs from 8:30 am to 1 pm.

There are some who will say that the Stratford Garlic Festival is the best one in the province. I would love to attend and see if this rumour holds true! This year the 6th annual is being held Saturday, September 8th from 9 am to 4 pm and Sunday, September 9th from 10 am to 4 pm at the Old Stratford Fairgrounds, 20 Glastonbury Drive. Admission is $5 each day.

  • Garlic Chef Competition at noon on Sunday between Aaron Linley of Bijou (returning champion) and Yva Santini of Pazzo. I have dined at Bijou, so I totally get why Chef Linley is a force!
  • Liz Primeau, author of In Pursuit of Garlic will also be speaking at this Festival on both days.
  • Renowned chefs and cooking experts, Rose Murray, Elizabeth Baird and Emily Richards will be doing a cooking demonstration on the Saturday morning.
SEPTEMBER 15 (Niagara):
New this year, Niagara is holding their 1st annual garlic festival on Saturday, September 15 from 10 am to 7 pm at Busy Bee Gardens Lavender Farm, 758 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-On-The-Lake.

OCTOBER 13 and 14 (Toronto):
Toronto had such success in their first year that their 2nd annual Toronto Garlic Festival will span two days. It is being held Saturday, October 13th starting at 1 pm and Sunday, October 14th starting at 9 am at the Evergreen Brick Works just north of Broadview Subway station at 550 Bayview Avenue. Admission is $10 each day (plus service charges).

  • Liz Primeau, author of In Pursuit of Garlic will also be speaking at this Festival at Noon on Sunday "Growing Great Garlic in the City".
  • The Toronto Garlic Festival has developed a Garlic Map using Google Maps, to identify locations for purchasing garlic right across the province. See here. Direct updates to info@TorontoGarlicFestival.ca.
The 34th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival will be taking place next weekend, July 27, 28 and 29 in Gilroy, California. They say they host the largest garlic festival around.

Garlic can keep for up to 10 months if stored in a cool, dry, dark location. Do not refrigerate garlic.

Only hardneck garlic produces a scape, which needs to be removed approximately after the first curl is formed. This will allow energy to be directed to the bulb's development.

National Garlic Day is April 19.

Salmon Salad Smørrebrød Built from Local Ingredients

I keep an emergency tin of salmon handy when I have a bit of a lunch crisis. I do enjoy a salmon salad sandwich.

We often will have slices of bread in the freezer from Art-is-in Boulangerie. This time, it was their Crazy Grain bread.

Roots and Shoots Farm is keeping our crisper well stocked - lettuce, tomatoes, onions, garlic scapes.

Two thumbs up for today's smørrebrød (open-faced) sandwich! [Must be eaten with a knife and fork! It is all so civil and a great way to eat more slowly.]

Salmon Salad Smørrebrød

Slice of Crazy Grain bread
Butter (optional), but if used, must be spread right to the edge
Boston leaf lettuce
Tomato slices
Cucumber slices
Tropicana onion slices
Salmon salad (tin of salmon, real mayonnaise, salt & pepper)

Garlic scape pesto

Roots and Shoots Farm - 4th Week of CSA Food 2012

As I carefully stored away this week's CSA food basket from Roots and Shoots Farm, it reminded me of thoughts I shared on a recent CBC Fresh Air interview regarding the whole business of Community Supported Agriculture.

Listen: (Runs 10:27)

I confessed to having romantic notions for choosing to become involved in this fast growing food trend of joining my dinner plate to a local farmer's field. Roots and Shoots Farm's CSA program has grown from 60 shares to 200 shares in 3 years time. The Westboro location is their keenest market.

Those romantic notions do loom large. I grew up on a farm and I have wonderful memories of our gigantic garden. The rows of rainbow colours, producing to overflowing. Beautiful specimens eaten raw or cooked up for that night's dinner. The excess then preserved, to be enjoyed throughout the winter months. Memories of perfection. Although not totally forgotten, the images have certainly dulled as to the many times we were subjected to the blights, the beetles, the slow germination, the droughts, the excessive moisture, early frost, late frost. The hale.

Lucky me. This is probably the best food basket so far since I started as a CSA member in 2010, the year this farm started. Despite investing in the risk of this farmer's venture, he still shelters me a bit from the downside that was a real part of my farm gardening days. My basket does not contain lettuce with many missing and chewed up leaves. My tomatoes do not have large blemishes. My garlic does not have rot. Severely damaged produce does not leave the farm. If things go badly, we may have smaller baskets and smaller produce, but we likely will never see the really unsightly stuff.

Good news. Our baskets so far have been large and luscious. This is in part due to the diligent work of Robin, Jesse and their faithful team to ensure the best quality comes from the field, through vigilant weeding, constant irrigation and careful planning of when to harvest. Because they have chosen to run a certified organic farm, perhaps their challenges to deliver are even greater.

This year in particular has been very hard for farmers because of the severe lack of rain. Thankfully, Roots and Shoots Farm has a well planned irrigation program.

Where the sun beats down the hardest, my lawn is burning up and taking on desert-like conditions I am so very thankful for my super juicy tomatoes, flavourful carrots and tender greens.








Boston leaf lettuce

Tropicana onions

Swiss Chard


If you want to learn more about the farm, the contact information for Roots and Shoots Farm is:

They also sell at a number of markets around the city, including the Ottawa Farmers' Market on Sunday at Brewer Park. 8 am to 3 pm.

[Disclaimer: My comments are my own. I do not do sponsored posts. Roots and Shoots Farm has never asked me to write about their farm. I did this post because I love their food. I receive nothing in return for waxing poetic about their great produce.]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

NEW FIND: Alice's Village Cafe in Carp

Alice's Village Cafe in downtown Carp (my husband laughs when I say Carp has a downtown) has been open for 6 days. I first heard of the place from Hummingbird Chocolate Maker at the Ottawa Farmers' Market on Sunday. Her beautiful 'bean to bar' chocolate may be available at Alice's Village Cafe 'soon'. I digress, but here are Hummingbird's beautiful bars!

Always keen to explore the culinary experiences in the far reaches of Ottawa, we ventured the exactly 30 kms this morning to check them out. Although the building is shiny and new, it is styled of yesteryear and fits in well with the feel of Carp's country heritage. (They also appear to have an obsession with bikes. Something I would have tagged on urban-focused Bridgehead, and not a place whose destination transportation most likely requires a motor. Perhaps an image akin to the yesteryear theme.)

The business cards placed by the cash, shows that this is another Crystal and Dustin Therrien production. They are also the proprietors of nearby-and-much-loved The Cheshire Cat Pub. Ah, people with experience. Lots of experience. This should bode well for Alice's Village Cafe. So now this new Cheshire Cat connection has me thinking, Alice, as in Alice in Wonderland. A departure for sure from that Arlo Guthrie tune swirling in my head as we headed up Carp Road - Alice's Restaurant. Though, reflecting back on the visit, I don't see connections to either.

I am focused in my order. I have what I pretty much always have at a coffee shop. A small latte. Their sizes are 12, 16 and 20 oz. $3.50 for the small. I do fret over being flooded in warm milk and so asked for an extra espresso shot for a mere additional 75 cents. She assured me that the double shot that goes into every small cup would satisfy. She was right. (For all you coffee crazies, their machine is a La Marzocco from Italy.)

Although there were no tricky outlines of hearts, palm leaves, flying monkeys or diving swans, I was quite okay to see a covering of dark caramel-y crema. To me, that spoke 'flavour'.

I guzzled it and greedily returned for a second.

Their 'house' beans are from Equator Coffee Roasters in Almonte. The mister went for a brew of their bold Mufferaw Jo!.

But they also serve up a 'guest' bean each month as a way of showcasing local roasters. What a great idea! This month the guest bean is from the little known and very new, Kinburn Coffee Co.

You can't travel 30 kms on a country drive without tasting the treats they will no doubt become famous for. They bake everything in-house, except for the bread for their sandwiches and panini. That is Art-is-in Boulangerie's Dynamite bread. Of course.

For $3.00, the mister attacked The Big Nasty. Close to 4 1/2 inches in diameter. I just love the name. It is catchy and sassy and will easily become the talk of the town - country and city. "Oh heck, ya!"

For $1.50, I went for the 'selling like hot cakes' Lemon Muffin. We all know that muffins are just cake but lemon calls to you when the sun is high and the weather is sweltering. Did this muffin cool me down? No way. It was pretty hot stuff in each of its big puckery citrus bursts. I loved every fresh-from-the-oven bite, including the light sugary dusting garnishing it's hood.

The main seating room is expansive with 5 tables for 4, 2 tables for 2 and a center harvest table that spaciously seats 8. Facing the gazebo in the back is a small enclave with 10 sit-up bar stools for when you just want to be away from the bustle.

The yesteryear charm includes wide plank floor boards, wooden tables and chairs and walls of brick in an early 20th century reddish, rust colour. The modern touches show in such things as the eclectic overhead light fixture.

And there is that love of bikes again! I like it too!

There is multi-medium artwork adorning the walls. Many items are for sale. The artist is Dulce Tapp.

The food selection is what you would expect of a coffee shop and cafe. Every form of coffee, tea, cold drinks, which include house made Italian sodas, lemonade, Kiju juices and Boylan soft drinks.

To eat there are breakfast sandwiches, panini, potato salad and soups. As well as sweet treats of cookies, tarts, scones, muffins and, of course, The Big Nasty.

Also for sale are complementary paraphernalia such as tea pots and travel mugs. And also bags of the monthly 'guest' bean.

On a day like today, the generous front porch, with a collection of Adirondack chairs, is the spot to sit and sip and watch the happenings on Carp's main street.

Street parking is plenty, including the angle parking out front. No meters here. (Or hitching posts.)

As it is early days in the set up, Alice is only accepting cash. The new world forms of transacting money will follow in time.

They are located right across from St. James the Apostle Anglican Church, which is right beside the Carp Agricultural Fairgrounds where the Carp Farmers' Market is held each Saturday from 8 am to 1 pm. No doubt this place will be buzzing on the weekends!

Consider the Farmers' Market, the Diefenbunker, Alice's Village Cafe for breakfast or lunch and you can make a day of it. Worth the drive? You betcha.

Alice's Village Cafe
3773 Carp Road
Carp, Ontario

Mon to Wed: 6 am - 6 pm
Sat to Sun: 7 am - 6 pm

Facebook: Alice's Village Cafe
Twitter: AlicesCafe
Website: www.alicesvillagecafe (content coming soon)

Alice's Village Cafe on Urbanspoon
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