On Saturday, Brian and I headed just west of downtown Bennington to attend the 14th Annual Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival. Dorky as it may sound, I’d been looking forward to it for months. We had a great time and I definitely learned a lot of things I didn’t know before spending the day sampling delicious Vermont treats (garlic, maple syrup, salsas, dips, breads, sandwiches…it was pretty amazing).
1. The Garlic Festival is really popular
We drove to Vermont on the morning of the first day of the festival and it was pretty crowded. Of course, the fact that the majority of the vendors were distributing free samples didn’t help cut down on the crowds. According to the event’s website, over 6000 people attending the 2008 festival. That’s a lot of people for a two day event.
2. There are many different kinds of garlic
I know I’m not the only person who didn’t already know this because I was eavesdropping on other people, but it never occured to me before that there are all different types of garlic. It seems odd to me that supermarkets only seem to carry one kind (and sometimes elephant garlic) if all these local farms are growing so many varieties.
3. Garlic makes a great decoration
Brian and I opted not to purchase any garlic artwork to decorate our apartment, though I’m sure it would’ve smelled nice. I just wanted you to be aware that the option is out there.
4. There exists such a thing as maple liqueur
Along with several Vermont beer and wine vendors, Sapling Maple Liqueur had a booth with samples available. We couldn’t think of when another opportunity might arise to sample maple liqueur, so we got some. Pretty, isn’t it? Pretty strong is more like it. We had couple sips and then used the rest to top some vanilla ice cream (though they did have garlic ice cream too!)
5. There exists such a thing as garlic fudge
I expected that the Garlic Festival would have some bizarre garlic flavored foods and this is definitely my top pick. Of course, I had to try it. The sample was pretty microscopic, but it tasted fine to me. I suppose it helps that cherry can be a pretty strong flavor.
As I’ve mentioned about a million times, Brian and I recently moved to a new apartment. I’d just like to share with you my old kitchen:
It was a shared kitchen/dining area, but as far as the kitchen’s concerned, that was it. All our appliances, dishes, bakeware, glasses, mugs, pots, pans AND food were kept in these cabinets. It was a little cozy.
This is my new kitchen:
More cabinets (though the perspective on this picture is a little difficult). Definitely more drawers. Lots more counter space. What’s that behind the door in the lower right corner?
Oh, it’s a pantry! A whole closet in which to store food (and my reusable shopping bags and apron collection)! Imagine that!
Needless to say, Brian and I (probably mostly me) are greatly enjoying our new kitchen. It’s nice to not have to empty out an entire cabinet to access what we need.
If you’re looking for something to cook in your kitchen, I highly recommend Curried Brown Rice with Tomatoes and Peas, as recently seen on Cheap Healthy Good. The dish was cheap and healthy and good, as expected, plus you can read about her worst date ever. I’d never made anything with brown rice before, but since it’s baked in the oven it’s pretty impossible to mess up. I used regular curry powder, since I’m too cheap to buy anything I don’t have to, and it still tasted great…though now I really want to try it with Madras curry. Brian and I don’t like peas, so I subsituted assorted frozen veggies for the peas.
This weekend, while out and about, the husband and I stopped by Dunkin’ Donuts. We’re really, really big Dunks fans. The store we went to was carrying the new “Toffee for Your Coffee” donut. It’s a glazed sour cream donut with heath bar bits on top. I actually voted for this donut last year when they ran the “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” contest, so I needed to try it out.
This is the picture distributed by Dunkin’ Donuts:
This is what the donut actually looks like:
Not quite as appetizing, eh? And to be honest, it tastes about as good as it looks. It tastes like a plain Dunks donut (which is definitely not a bad thing), with really sugary glaze on top. I’m sure it is heath bar, but it didn’t really taste like it to me. Disappointing, to say the least.
Anyone else have experience with Toffee for Your Coffee? Are they better looking at other locations?
Question: What’s vegetarian, easy and fast to make, apparently better than my gazpacho, only takes 2 steps and only needs 10 basic ingredients?
I’m really ready for fall, and thankfully it’s starting to feel like it around here. Nevertheless, it still seems a little early to be making soup (Brian and I have grand plans to spend the entire winter making and eating soups). Luckily, my free September 2009 issue of Food & Wine contained the perfect solution: “Chilled Tomato Soup with Tarragon Crème Fraîche”. The ingredient list is really simple: tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, vegetable broth, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, crème fraîche and tarragon. Chances are, you already have almost all of those ingredients.
Ultimately, I halved the recipe (which then ended up only getting us through last night because Brian and I both had two servings), omitted the salt and pepper (I like to leave out salt whenever possible, especially since my broth wasn’t low sodium) and substituted sour cream for crème fraîche, because my supermarkets don’t appear to carry it. And what was I going to do with leftover crème fraîche?
Brian and I both loved the soup, possibly even more than the gazpacho I made a few months ago. The flavor is really fresh and I’ll eat anything with tarragon in it. It’s a summer soup and not particularly hearty so I would recommend serving it as a side or getting a good loaf of bread to go with it.
My soup craving is satisfied for the moment…but I’m still looking forward to making “real soup” in the near future.
I spent too much of yesterday agonizing over a barbecue. It was my church’s women’s fellowship barbecue and, being new to the area and all, I really wanted to go. Attendees were supposed to bring their own meat to grill and something to share. First issue: I thought it was pretty silly to go to the store to buy meat and, more than likely, a roll, for a single person. I don’t have hamburgers (or turkey burgers, or veggie burgers, or hot dogs) in my freezer waiting for occasions like this. Nor do I want to. So I agonized over whether to go to the store so I would have something for the grill. Second issue: Then I debated over what to get-should I get meat? Veggie burgers? Vegetables to grill? When possible, I don’t like to introduce myself as “Emily the not-quite-but-almost-vegetarian”. If the conversation gets there then fine, but it’s not the point of my existence. So, really the whole debate was about what first impression I wanted to make.
In the end, I brought nothing but Mediterranean Salad (and I am getting to the part with the recipe). I hoped that no one would notice that I hadn’t brought anything for the grill. Know what? No one did. There were so many pasta salads and bean salads and fruit salads and Mexican dips that no one noticed that my full plate didn’t have anything from the grill or any meat. I had a really good time spending the evening conversing about things other than my eating habits.
What to bring to share was much easier for me to figure out. I knew right away what I wanted to make. Last year, before I was really into cooking, I saw Giada De Laurentiis make this Mediterranean Salad on Everyday Italian. It was a big hit at last night’s get together.
The dish contains Israeli/Mediterranean couscous, which I’ve found at food co-ops and Whole Foods It’s a small pasta, different from “normal” couscous. The recipe says any small pasta will work, but I’ve been so happy with the couscous that I’ve never tried it. Add in some broth,* garlic, lemon juice and zest, fresh mint, fresh basil and dried cranberries and it’s a delicious side salad (or meal, if I have my way). Check it out.
*Switch out the chicken broth for vegetable broth and this dish is vegetarian.