Food, glorious food plus llamas

garlic head
It was a bad year for garlic?

Despite all the running and hiking and boot-camping and yoga and (sadly, just indoor) rock climbing this summer, I recently managed a small victory on the “no, really, I don’t just exercise all the time” front. Steve and I took the better part of a Saturday to head out to Hutchinson for the Minnesota Garlic Festival, almost a month ago. We both like garlic and festivals, and a drive out in the country in August sounded like a great way to spend a summer day. Also, some great local brewers were going to be there with samples, and the other food vendors/collaborators lined up sounded promising.

Great Scape Cafe
Foodie Heaven

Surprisingly, we didn’t come back and sweat garlic for two days. This may be because they were out of garlic ice cream by the time I was ready for it. However, we did have a very enjoyable time. How could you not, with goats, llamas and kettle corn?

The drive took a little over an hour, and after passing miles and miles of cornfields and corn-filled trucks, plus several produce stands, we were more than ready to get some garlicky food into us. The main attraction – or at least, the one that brought the festival to my attention in the first place, due to promotions in Facebook – was the “Great Scape Café”. This was where several twin cities restaurants were serving up their best garlic-graced lunches. However, the line was so long that Steve and I decided we needed beer, first, so we headed over to the barn where the beer and wine tasting were going on. Yes, barn: this event was taking place at the McLeod County Fairgrounds.

scape
A truly great scape

Twenty bucks got us a commemorative glass and tickets for three samples from the Lucid, Harriet, and Badger Hill brewing companies. We both started with Harriet brews, which were reliably excellent, and went to check out some of the other exhibitors. We found some great hot-pepper jelly and chutney to take home, then wandered over to get a closer look at the two llamas and goats that were joining in the festivities as a small petting zoo.

By then, even with calorie-dense beer in our bellies, we were very, very hungry, and thankfully the line had shortened. Within minutes I was digging into a plate of savory garlic sausage and farro pilaf from Alma, and Steve enjoyed a great veggie burger from Burger Moe’s. We shared a side of not-quite fully roasted garlic and french bread.

After lunch we headed back over to the beer barn for a refill (Lucid, this time), then strolled over to a “Garlic in Minnesota” talk given by a local grower, Dave Glaeseman. We learned some garlic anatomy, the names of some varieties, how it’s grown, and that over half of the 30+ audience members were garlic growers. We’ve never tried growing it in our backyard. We also learned that if we do, we need to be careful where we get the starts: while it was a good year for growing garlic to eat, that same garlic, due to a disease, is not fit for planting.

biting into garlic
Taking a bite out of the fest

On a tangential but relevant note: we just found out that the very same disease wiped out many of the purple coneflower plants in our rain garden: Aster Yellows. Wow. And, yikes. We had to destroy all of the affected plants, which thankfully appeared to be JUST the purple coneflowers. I’m relieved that those nasty leafhoppers didn’t take a liking to milkweed, blazing star or bottlebrush, though my diminished urban rain garden is not as sad of a story as that of the garlic farmers, this year. How heartbreaking!

Back to the festival: Just before leaving we picked up some kettle corn, and then headed over to the barn where garlic was being sold. Due to the diminished crop, the selection was small, but we did bring home a bag of garlic. I’m hoping to use it soon in a batch of hummus! The spicy jam, we’ll likely put to good use at a party soon, with some creamy cheese and crackers.

Also on the non-jock front: Netflix has served up some good movies, lately: Forks Over KnivesThe Women on the 6th Floor, Temple Grandin, and Road to Perdition. Plus, tomatoes! Growing in our backyard, with peppers, tiger-eye beans, delicata squash, and a mystery melon/squash, as well (a compost surprise).

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