Monday, September 30, 2013

Romero and Enon Valley Garlic

If you're reading this, thanks for not forgetting about this blog; we've been off the radar for quite some time. Dave and I got married on Saturday, and these past two months were happily spent getting ready for our wedding, which turned out to be a perfect day. Now that the wedding has happened, which seems surreal, we can return our focus to other pursuits, like getting back into blogging. We don't yet have our wedding photos to post, but we do have a backlog of photos taken during the summer we'd like to share over the next week or two. 

At the end of August, we went to Pittsburgh's Tomato and Garlic Festival. I was so excited for the event that I requested the day off work weeks in advance. 

The Community Food Bank was accepting fresh produce donations at the festival. At the time, our backyard garden was at its most abundant, and we each donated a bag of homegrown eggplant, dragon's tongue beans, tomatoes, and sweet peppers. 

They seemed to be getting lots of donations! 

A beautiful box of peppers. 

Volunteers for the food bank sorted donations into boxes. 

One of the most popular stands was Enon Valley Garlic. They grow their garlic on an organic farm in nearby Beaver County, PA. I first encountered their garlic stand at the weekly Sewickley farmers market, and was amazed. Sometimes, I'm dumbfounded all over again by how disconnected we are from our food supply due to the convenience of grocery stores. Garlic is perhaps one of my favorite things. There is no such thing as too much, and I'll gladly rub it on toast in the morning, put it in every dish I cook, and even eat it raw when I have a cold or as part of a cleanse. However, before finding Enon Valley, I had no idea there were multiple varieties of garlic. Duh. Enon Valley puts every clove of garlic I've ever had in my life to shame. They have bulbs with names like Music, Romanian Red, and Porcelain Beauty. And they are all spectacular. During the festival, I bought bulbs of Bogatyr and Music, some of which is now planted in our garden. Music is apparently a good option for using garlic medicinally as it has a high Allisin content, which is what makes garlic antibacterial and anti-fungal. It originated from Italy, while Bogatyr originates from Russia. Along with our garlic bulbs, we sampled delicious garlic scape pesto (scapes are the green part of garlic growing above the ground), and Dave and I bought matching garlic t-shirts. 

A donation to the food bank came with free admission to Phipps Conservatory, which hosts the Tomato and Garlic Festival on its grounds. Phipps is one of my family's favorite places to visit, something Dave will never let us live down. He claims we've taken him there nearly every time he's been in Pittsburgh, but that doesn't even scratch the surface of how many times my parents and I have been. 

Phipps changes with the seasons, but this time, there was something exceptional to see: Romero, Phipps' very own rare corpse flower. The Corpse flower starts life as a huge underground bulb. They only bloom once in a blue moon, and this bloom is impossible to predict; it could happen six years or ten years after the previous bloom. When the Corpse flower decides to emerge from the ground, it grows and grows; the flower can weigh more than 150 pounds and grows at a rate of 2 to 6 inches a day! The bloom only lasts for 24-48 hours, and for 12 of those, the flower emits a rotting stench. After the bloom, the flower collapses and rots away.  

When we visited Phipps, Romero had passed his peak bloom and stench, but we were still able to see him. He looked other-worldly.

My mom enjoying the day at Phipps. 

Phipps has recently opened its Center for Sustainable Landscaping, one of the greenest buildings on earth. Its goal is to prove net-zero energy use is possible. One of the building's features is a living rooftop garden, which provided a neat view of the city and a pleasant place to walk. You can read more about other features here

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