While visiting Dan’s family in the Isle of Wight, we stopped off for some lunch at the Garlic Farm. I was starving, and jumped on the recommendation, as I was assured that the food was delicious. But I must admit I scoffed inwardly, picturing a muddy field that ponged of manure and, well, garlic.
Related: 24 Hours in the Isle of Wight
We parked the car, and I took my first glance at the farm building. It was grey stone, with what I think was a black tile roof; it certainly had a rustic atmosphere.
I liked the entrance, but I was utterly smitten with the courtyard that led to the shop and taste experience centre. The October sun was brilliant, emphasising the vivid explosions of green. I particularly liked the garlic themed sculpture – it’s human-esque, modern, and saucy.
I considered trying some of the black garlic and chocolate chip ice cream they were selling in a shack outside the entrance to the shop, but something about ‘black’, ‘garlic’, ‘chocolate’ and ‘ice cream’ combined made me feel queasy. Instead, I decided to peruse the shop.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much garlic in my entire life – not that surrounding oneself is normal practice. There were shelves and boxes and baskets and bushels of a variety of types of garlic. I was fascinated by the elephant garlic in particular – have you seen them? They’re the size of a fist! Out the back, there is a collection of gifts that would be perfect for a Christmas stocking filler.
I met up with the rest of the group, seated in the corner of the cafe. It was a busy conservatory, with sounds of chatter, and scents of garlic and coffee drifting on the air. I tactically ignored the four-legged visitors, sitting under tables because I was missing Ted, but it was worth making a mental note that it’s dog-friendly. Our table was by far the best in the room – a perfect spot for me to gaze at the courtyard and pretend to ‘people spot’. I scanned the menu and wasn’t surprised to find that 99% of dishes included garlic – for a starter, you can even buy a bulb of garlic with bread. At least it would be fresh from the garlic farm itself!
Although I liked the look of the chicken burger, I was trying to eat a little healthier, cut down on the meat, so I was swayed towards the vegan flatbread, topped with pesto, onion, pepper and garlic sauce. It was delicious.
Usually one for craving dessert at a meal out, I was so stuffed I couldn’t bring myself to ask for the dessert menu! Instead, we paid our bill and packed up to explore the garlic tasting experience.
In a building next to the shop, there are a range of sauces and dips on display to try, as well as tiny cups with tiny pieces of garlic. I was told that the tasting experience once supplied crackers to try the sauces and garlic with, but they were replaced by lolly and cocktail sticks. Probably a good thing – no one’s going to double dip a bit of wood!
Did you know that garlic can actually be spicy? In the centre of the image above, you can see a graph displaying types of garlic and their heat. I tried a few pieces for the hell of it, but completely avoided the hot ones. It turns out black garlic is actually quite sweet, so it made sense why it was combined with chocolate chips to make the ice cream.
When we reached the sauces, it all went downhill. I was presented with a small tub of Vampire Slayer hot sauce. I don’t do hot sauce. Peer pressure got the better of me, so I dipped my stick into the radioactive liquid, and touched it to the end of my tongue. In seconds, the spot was stinging, scalding, and I felt tears prick in the corner of my eyes.
I had to use barbecue sauce to ease the pain. It still hurt three hours later.
Worth a visit to the Garlic Farm? Definitely!