Cooking With Charl

Amateur home cook, with a love for baking and all things garlic :)

The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight (my favourite place in the world!)

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As today is national garlic day i thought it would be the perfect time for me to tell you about my favourite place in the world, The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight.

The Isle of Wight is somewhere that me and my boyfriend have visited for the last 5-6 years and we love it there! The views, the beaches, the villages and most importantly the food!!

As we all know i love everything about food, cooking and eating! but a food that i have always loved in large amounts is Garlic! I could quite happily live on good quality freshly baked garlic bread for the rest of my life :). As you can imagine as soon as I found out about the Garlic Farm on our first visit to the Island I just had to go there and see what they had to offer. The first time we went there it was quite different to what it is now, it was a rather basic farm shop but I fell in love with it non the less, with the smell of garlic in the air, witty garlic related signs hanging everywhere and bulbs as far as the eye could see. Right at the back of the shop there was a tasting table full of their homemade chutneys and relishes much to my delight :). It was on this visit I was first introduced to elephant garlic which now is one of my favourite things to eat just simply roasted with some good toasted bread mmmmm amazing! I asked a lot of questions when i was there about the different varities of garlic and how to grow garlic and the shop assistants are always very friendly and full of knowledge, its so lovely to see staff really care about what they are selling.

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fresh green garlic, solent wight bulbs, scapes and elephant garlic

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me with my oil of wight, isle of wight flour and garlic farm grinder refill 🙂

A brief history of The Garlic Farm

The Garlic man himself is Colin Boswell who moved to the island with his parents in the late 50’s. Mersley Farm (where the Garlic Farm is situated) was acquired by the Boswell family and was originally used for cash crops such as sweetcorn which took off in the 60’s and 70’s becoming the UK’s largest sweetcorn producers. As the farm got bigger they needed to expand their crops and decided to start growing garlic after Colins mom, Nora grew some lovely bulbs in their own garden. Colin began to study all aspects of garlic travelling to California and France to further his studies. By 1979 they managed to break into mainstream supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsburys and Marks and Spencer. Through the 80’s and 90’s Garlic became loved by many across the UK and demand for colins garlic grew. By 1999 they returned to where they started selling to farmers markets across the UK, getting back to their roots. After many Tv appearences by the Garlic farm their popularity grew and they are now the Uk’s largest specialist garlic growers.

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As I mentioned before, The Garlic Farm is quite different today, it has expanded dramatically since my first visit, they now have an even bigger farm shop, tasting centre, cooking demos, growing information, tractor tours and a fantastic restaurant.

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The farm shop now has an even bigger selection of goodies from garlic bulbs to garlic gadgets and fantastic selections of homemade garlicky products. It is most definitely the place to go if ever you visit the Isle of Wight, but to be honest id say The Garlic Farm is worth the ferry ride all by itself! And remember if ever you buy garlic with ‘wight’ in the title you can thank the Garlic Farm for your amazing garlic!

The Garlic Farm Website

The Garlic Farm Facebook

The Garlic Farm Twitter

Why not stay at The Garlic Farm on your visit to the island?

Mersley Farm Holidays

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Tomato Bruschetta

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Starting off simple,

I came across these lovely looking tomatoes and couldn’t resist! These various tomatoes can be quite difficult to find and ordinary red salad tomatoes or cherry tomatoes work just as well but does not deliver the vibrant burst of colour, I found mine on the off chance whilst wondering around lidl! They are slightly more expensive than standard tomatoes but definitely worth a try, my personal favorites are the ones that look like little watermelons 🙂

This dish looks and is very simple but Ive learnt a few tricks that make it that little bit special!

  • Firstly get your hands on some ciabatta bread, I like to use the indiviual ones. Cut in half length ways and drizzle all sides with olive oil.
  • Heat up a griddle pan until smoking hot and place the ciabatta soft side up straight onto the bars.
  • Whilst ciabatta is toasting, cut tomatoes into various shapes, (i like it to look quite rustic!) and place in a bowl, add, a few chopped basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • If using standard salad tomatoes my advice would be to peel them, to do this boil the kettle and score the underside of the tomaotes with a cross (not the end that attactched to the vine) place in a bowl and cover them in boiling water, leave for 2-4 mins then blast them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Now the outer skin should just peel straight off.
  • Keep an eye on the ciabatta turning once, you want nice bar marks on the bread but be careful not to burn it!
  • Once ciabatta is toasted on both sides take off the heat. Take a garlic clove, cut the end off and rub the garlic over the hot toasted bread, this makes the world of difference and I NEVER leave this step out!
  • Finally spoon over the tomatoes and drizzle and juices and oil left over in the bowl over the bruschetta.

As I said this is a very simple dish to create and its what I love to eat as a snack, if your as mad on garlic as I am then you can crush half a clove directly into the tomatoes when seasoning for an extra garlicky hit!

I hope you enjoy my first proper post 🙂

Charl

x

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