We get to the farm on Sound Ave. in Northville just in time for lunch, and as Garden of Eve is an organic farm with a really good café, we march straight past the usual festival food trucks to the farm’s own food stand. Organic hot dogs, $3. Garlic ice cream $2.50. Perfect. Surprisingly, the ice cream comes in vanilla and chocolate, so we get one of each. We sit on hay bales by a bluegrass band, eat the dogs, and then open the little tubs of ice cream. My son, Toby, sticks his spoon into the chocolate and takes a big bite. “I love it! It tastes just like chocolate ice cream, but then in the background it tastes like garlic,” he announces to everyone in earshot. My little food critic! My daughter, Miranda, eats the vanilla even though she finds it “spicy.” She finds everything spicy, but she’s always game to try something new, so that’s fine. It’s certainly a good way to get a dose of garlic into the kids – I could tell by the way they smelled so very healthy for the rest of the day.
The Garlic Festival at Garden of Eve is a very kid-friendly event, with a hay ride around the farm, a large, enclosed play area, chickens, rabbits, llamas and sheep, a field of pumpkins, and pony rides. The hay ride bumps up and down the rutted, muddy farm roads, stopping at the planted fields – leeks, chard, and string beans – and the chicken houses. The tractor drags the hay wagon under an irrigation sprinkler, and all the kids squeal and everyone gets wet. At the end of the ride, the farmer offers little green punnets to anyone wanted to pick their own cherry tomatoes, but we decline as we are up to here in tomatoes at the moment.
Personally, I am not big on events that have too many vendors, and it was kind of crowded with little tents everywhere. But I notice all the vendors are selling their own food products, like cookies, pickles, and preserves, and the crafts are also relatively local, so that’s legitimate. Rocky Point Artisan Brewers has a Sticke Festbier; medium-brown, unfiltered and rather flat carbonation-wise, but with a pleasant, mild flavor with hints of meadow grass and molasses, and 6.5 percent alcohol. That’s my treat as I only got a tiny taste of the ice cream.
But the best part is the actual garlic. Farm baskets overflowing with garlic, braids of garlic, whole heads, and loose cloves by the pound. Loads of garlic! This is what I have come for. Both Garden of Eve and Biophilia Farm in Jamesport have stations set up where you can take tiny tastes of the raw garlic and compare flavors. There’s Italian Purple, German Red and White, Music, Killarney, and more. There are at least a dozen different types, and it’s so educational to taste how some are sweet, or nutty, mild or hot, or sharp and spicy. Some cloves are large and round, some small and oblong, and many heads have a hard stem – these are called hardneck garlic. I like all of them, but thinking of the kids, I ask, “Which one is the mildest?” A lady near me snorts at my apparently amateur garlic-eating status. I fill a bag with a bunch of different types, one of this, two of those, getting totally carried away as usual. I will have no idea which garlic is the Persian Star and which the Rocambole when I get around to using them— after admiring them in a basket for a while— but the whole experience is a lot of fun. And now, I know I can get away with stirring chopped, blanched garlic into regular ice cream, giving it to the kids, and calling it special garlic ice cream, Garden of Eve style.