Monday, September 10, 2012

Garlic Festival 2012

This weekend was one that I had been looking forward to since last year, the Garlic Fest! Every since my first visit last year, I couldn't wait to go back.

Cleveland Garlic Festival
We were really nervous about the weather on Saturday because it has been raining all morning and the forecast wasn't looking good. But luckily Mother Nature was kind and we didn't have any rain and it was gorgeous.

This year we decided to try the Preview Brunch. After unexpectedly sleeping in and then having to pick up my weekly Fresh Fork bag of goodies, we were really late. But we made it just in time to enjoy the plentiful breakfast. We missed the much anticipated bellinis - they were long gone. The early birds like to drink get the cocktails!
Shaker Square Garlic Festival
We had sausage links, veggie strata, sausage strata, and garlic roasted potatoes from Fire. They are one of my favorite restaurants and the food didn't disappoint. 
They also had omelet stations that included lots of fresh vegetables and roasted garlic. We also had three colors of watermelon: yellow, red and orange. Very pretty and really delicious! They also had assorted pastries, tea and sometimes coffee - they kept running out of that. The sporadic availability of coffee was the only complaint and one that should have been easy to avoid.

Afterwards, we stayed in the Chef Demo tent for the Grass-fed Beef Top Chef Grill Off Competition. This competition is always my favorite part of the Garlic Fest. There are 3 separate groups: beef, chicken and pork. This year's beef competition featured:
Momocho's Randy Carter

Flying Fig's Ashley Young
Garlic Festival Beef Competition

Skye LaRae's Eric Wells

Nighttown's Nathan Sansone

Each chef prepared their interpretation of the featured product, grass-fed beef. The judges were John Crea, Laura Taxel and Steve Schimoler.
John Crea, Laura Taxel and Chef Steve Schimoler judge the Beef at the Garlic Festival
After the judges tasted the dishes, the audience was treated to samples as well. They were all excellent! Here's what we had:
2012 Beef Competition at the Garlic Festival
Nighttown: Grilled strip loin with arugula, micro radish and marble potatoes
2012 Beef Competition at the Garlic Festival
Skye LaRae: Cumin and coriander crusted flank steak with garlic roasted corn and a spicy cilantro chimichurri
2012 Beef Competition at the Garlic Festival
Flying Fig: ribeye with red wine reduction, sofrito, warm potato salad and fried leeks
My apologies to Momocho's chef because I somehow missed the picture of his gorgeous dish. He served a strip loin with pickled cabbage with ginger and ancho chiles. He also included Patron XO which was a very unique use of this coffee and chocolate flavored tequila and one that I will definitely be trying at home.
Coffee tequila at the 2012 Garlic Festival
I didn't even know this product existed until Saturday but I'm definitely going to be adding this one to the home bar.

I'm sure the judges must have had a hard time choosing but they awarded first place to Chef Young of the Flying Fig - congrats!! Momocho came in 2nd. I really don't know if I could have picked a winner - they were all excellent. I would have loved to try the Garlic Gimlet that Nighttown served but the booze was a judge-only perk.

Afterwards we walked around smelling and looking at all the garlic based offerings. Unfortunately we were stuffed so I couldn't eat a thing. (note to self next year ~ save room for garlic fries!!!)
I did manage to squeeze in a tiny taste of the caramelized onions with black garlic that Chef Brandt Evans of Pura Vida was serving with sausage - sooo good! 
2012 Garlic Festival sausage with carmelized onions with black garlic

We even bought some black garlic to go. 
Music garlic - left and black garlic - right
I can't wait to try this fermented molasses-like treat at home! If you haven't tried black garlic, put it on your Must Do list - it's sweet and mellow and doesn't leave you with garlic breath.
fresh corn, tomatoes
lots of great seasonal produce was featured
2012 Garlic Festival wasn't just garlic
fresh edamame 

 This year's Garlic Queen Julia Murphy in blue and 2010's right behind her in pink with the Garlic Fairy Princesses
2012 Garlic Festival
Fire was selling Chef Doug Katz' famous pickles
Chalk Art in progress
As always, there was a ton of great food, musical performers, belly dancers, Vitamix demos, garlic beer, and more. They have a great kiddie section called Mighty Locavores with a pedal tractor hay bale maze, games, art stations, story telling and more. 

I wish I had more time to spend there this year. It's a great festival for a very worthwhile cause. If you would like to read another recap, check out Always JAM in CLE's here. If you haven't gone yet, definitely put in on your calendar for next year. And remember to bring the mints!


  1. Thanks for the shoutout, lady! I had no idea there was this brunch-off preview. Oh my! I will definitely have to keep that in mind for next year! Glad you enjoyed it :)

  2. We sampled all kinds of garlicky goodness! The garlic fries were heaven! Mitchell's garlic ice cream was surprisingly good, but I'm glad 4 of us shared the bowl. There was also this little truck with a machine making fresh donuts and they really hit the spot (no garlic involved though).

    I grabbed some Music garlic to plant in a few weeks. I somehow missed the black garlic, but I've been curious about it.

    Keep your eyes out for the free (large) samples in the demo tent. The demo was weak (not much to show, just mixing and grilling), but the garlic goat cheese, tomato and eggplant sandwich was tasty.

    1. What demo did you go to? I was sad to miss the La Campagna sisters this year - last year they rocked! I'll have to try that sandwich - do you have any specifics or it is just following the list of ingredients?

  3. Crystal, so we did not see you there. It was a good time.

    We were there later in the day and enjoyed riding the Euclid Beach Rocket Car and the Thriller Car at dusk. The lights looked great.

    See my photos on Twitter at:

    1. Love your pics too - especially of all that garlic - yum!! Thanks for sharing. I didn't even see the Thriller Car - very cool!

  4. I'm infusing vodka with jalapenos as we "speak". After reading this, I should have thrown in some garlic, too! Sounds like a great event! Thanks for sharing!


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