The admittance fee was $4 for the day - one buck, I was informed, more than it had been in previous years. As I came through the gate, I was greeted by a huge farmer's market-like set-up with tents all over the place containing the booths of all kinds of vendors, interspersed with big food vendor trucks of all different kinds. We were hungry and all wanted different things - Shan wanted Indian food, Jem wanted BBQ, and I was indecisive because there was so much on offer: Greek food, vegetarian food, Asian food, burgers, gourmet sausages, gigantic wraps, and so much more. So I poked around and eventually decided on the gigantic wrap place, where I ordered a chicken curry wrap that was absolutely delicious.
After grabbing some food, I went around the entire park and looked at everything. Though this is billed as a garlic festival, there was a lot more there than just fancy garlics - though there were plenty of those. There were a ton of local artisans - potters, jewelers, painters, and other crafty things - and tons of produce vendors. This was a foodie heaven! In the end, I had a budget and didn't spend much. I got two fancy varieties of garlic, some awesome corn on the cob, and some honey from a local apiary, one with garlic in it and one chocolate & honey mixture. I also got a decadent cinnamon bun from an artisan bakery truck that came from the Okanagan. There was a local baker there selling slices of her cakes, but I got there too late and she had already run out.
All in all, however, the prices at the festival were outrageous. Jem & Shan, Garlic Fest veterans, found the same thing. As Jem put it, it's gotten more "boutique" as it's gotten more popular. It use to be less expensive, but now that the bug has caught on, vendors seem to have jacked their prices up. Jem & Shan also didn't think it was as good as it had been in previous years, but as this was my first time, I had nothing to compare it to.
I treated myself, as I mentioned, to two gourmet garlics: some soft neck Siberian garlic and some hard neck Yugoslavian garlic. For two heads of the Siberian stuff, which were about the same size as that generic stuff we find in our grocery stores around here, I paid $3. For one head of Yugoslavian stuff, which was HUGE, I also paid $3.
I didn't really know what to do with all this garlic until I was inspired by one of Shan's relatives at a family dinner the night we came back from the Garlic Festival. She told me of a recipe she'd found somewhere in which you roast tomatoes with garlic in some olive oil and then put that on pasta. Perfect! It was simple, tomatoes are cheap right now, and I had some fancy black, squid ink pasta I'd been keeping for a special occasion, and I thought the colours would make a lovely dish. And I was right!
Triple Garlic & Roasted Tomato Pasta
- 4 huge tomatoes, roughly chopped
- tons of garlic, peeled but whole: I used all of the Siberian stuff, plus three out of the four cloves of giant Yugoslavian garlic, plus two heads of the generic garlic I had in my pantry - we're looking at over 20 cloves of garlic in all
- olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 lb pasta, cooked to package instructions
In a roasting dish, drizzle some olive oil. Place the tomatoes in there, followed by the garlic. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Roast in a 400F oven until all the garlic is nice & soft.
Add the tomato & garlic mixture to the pasta and serve, with a little Parmesan cheese.
OH MY GOD. This was so simple and just so divine. It was ridiculously amazing! I might never go back to canned tomato sauce again, because roasting the tomatoes was so easy and so tasty.