The 2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

I’m a big fan of garlic. I use it a lot in practically everything I cook, and occasionally like eating a raw garlic clove or two. So I absolutely had to go to the 2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival.

2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

This is said to be an event that started out humbly enough, but which only grew and grew as the years went by and garlic lovers emerged from all over the U.S. The festival is held in Saugerties every last full weekend of September and features–what else?–numerous varieties of garlic produced by farms, food, lectures, musical performances, and crafts. I was there for the garlic.

2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

And I wasn’t alone. There were lots and lots of people there, and the attendance was no doubt helped by the rather warm and sunny day–which was a good thing, since forecast for this weekend was supposedly cloudy with showers.

My sisters, my brother-in-law, and I made our way around the booths, featuring businesses selling everything from garlic to sauces to dips and dressing, bread, and beef jerky. I sampled several pieces of garlic and learned about garlic varieties and how to distinguish them along the way. German White tastes a lot like garlic back home, Rocambole seemed rather sour to me, French Red and Italian White were very mild, Spanish Roja starts out mild then heats up after a few seconds, and Riesig is the granddaddy of spicy garlic–one small piece instantly had me tearing up and breathing fire. The man holding the platter of garlic samples was actually amused to see me turn red.

2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, garlic

Apart from all the garlic on display, there were also a lot of other food items that have been garlic-fied.

2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, garlic chocolate chip cookies

2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, apple pie with garlic

Naturally, we had to try the garlic ice cream as well, though given the size and the unknown taste, we weren’t prepared to order one each for ourselves. While we were in line, we heard a guy saying the garlic ice cream was the only reason he goes to the garlic festival every year.

2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, garlic ice cream

2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, garlic ice cream

The verdict: It was not offensive. Basically, it was just like vanilla ice cream with minced garlic mashed in. I’d eat it again, for sure.

We didn’t have anything garlic-themed for lunch since we were hankering for something with rice; the garlic hamburgers and breaded garlic cloves caught my eye, though. Instead, we split the roast pork with yellow rice and plantains from Cuchifritos, a Puerto Rican restaurant in Middletown, New York, which had a booth at the garlic festival. The roast pork was actually said to have garlic, but we didn’t detect garlic in the dish at all. It was awesome and flavorful, though.

2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, Cuchifrito

There were a lot of great things to see and taste at the garlic festival, and if I had no self-control I would’ve bought a lot of food products there. However, I restricted myself to getting garlic sea salt from Knob View Farm and garlic cheese from Casa del Caciocavallo.

2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

It was great fun to be among a lot of people who really seem to love food and garlic. Just check out the sign from the tent of the Garlic Seed Foundation below and you’ll see what a nice sense of humor they have.

2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, Garlic Seed Foundation

Our second Sunday at Mercato Centrale

We’ve heard about Mercato Centrale a while ago, but it’s only last week when we finally made our way there, and we liked it so much we went back yesterday. Now we’ve only visited Mercato Centrale twice but I can honestly say that we absolutely love the place. Who can say no to good food and fresh produce? Not to mention the excellent cakes, pies, and desserts you can find–I’m partial to the carrot cakes sold by MedChef.

With a wide variety of sellers and vendors to choose from, you’re bound to find something that will satiate your craving.

Or, find something else to crave for, like the yummy little quiches sold by Simply Pie. We ended up buying three spinach, feta, and tomato quiches for P36 each, and plan on getting a couple of chicken dijon pies next time. We even found a beef and San Mig Light pie, a local version of the English steak and ale pie by Tina’s Pie Outlet, which Lynn has been looking for.

The real fun part? Mercato Centrale has a rotating set of merchandisers that keep things fresh and interesting each week for their visitors. This Sunday, we saw a stall featuring Baked By Anita products, which we didn’t see last Sunday.

On top of that, the people are warm and inviting. You don’t get that friendly vibe in a grocery store’s now seemingly cold, cold aisles.

Overall, we can definitely say that Mercato Centrale is a delightful place to spend your weekends in – even people with the slightest affinity for food will enjoy the place. Perhaps next time, we’ll have a go at any of the food places in the grilling area–Chuck’s Grubberie, steamed cheeseburgers, and ostrich meat certainly sound tempting.