Five reasons why garlic festival rocks

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Rachel’s Gourmet Gone Wild served an Ostrich Slider topped with a garlic aioli, beer and ginger at the Toronto Garlic Festival. (Rod Charles/

Story by Rod Charles Deputy Editor

TORONTO, ONTARIO – It’s not often you think of garlic as a tourist draw but the Toronto Garlic Festival has done an exceptional job making this healthy yet much-maligned smelly root vegetable something to love and appreciate.

Toronto Garlic Festival has managed to create something special with a lineup of garlic experts and treats that are sure to make tickle your taste buds and stimulate your brain. Seriously, what can be more fun than tasting garlic beer, pizza, ostrich or breath for that matter?

“Once you fall in love with something you want to know more and more about it, and in finding out more about Ontario garlic, the relationship between food and traditions and customs and music soon become apparent,”  said Toronto Garlic Festival Founder and Director Peter McClusky.

Here are five awesomely fun (and at times stinky) reasons why Toronto Garlic Festival rocked.

1. Garlic Shots and stinky Garlic Breath

Garlic Baristas offered free, fresh-pressed cloves of Ontario garlic to festival visitors to eat raw. Yes if you’re wondering, I did it and I’m glad. Sort of. Well, not really.

Obviously not the most pleasant experience in the world but people who did were in great shape to dominate the Garlic Breath contest. In a nutshell, bad breath is measured in parts-per-billion on three crucial garlic elements — Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S), Methanethiol, and Dimethyl Sulphide. Prizes are awarded to the contestants with the highest reading of H2S (that is, with the strongest garlic breath).

2. Garlic Beer

Brimstone Brewing served a Black Garlic Oatmeal Stout Cask Ale. The beer is described on the website as “a full bodied oatmeal Stout flavoured with black garlic, plums, and raisins. This beer’s rich chocolate flavours are accented by a unique black garlic profile and rounded out by a gentle sweetness from the dark fruit, ending with a dry finish.”

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The chefs from Jamie Kennedy Kitchen served fries with garlic aioli and toasted garlic chips. (Rod Charles/

3. Garlicky Food

Let’s start with the important stuff – chocolate. MoRoCo’s presented the Black Garlic Chocolate Truffle. Death in Venice served two inspired gelati: Roast Garlic Chocolate, and Black Garlic Fennel Vanilla.

Other garlicky treats were beer jelly in eight different flavors from Malty & Hoppy Delicacy including Beer Jelly Infused with Black Garlic. The Pop Stand served Chocolate Fudgesicle with Black Garlic Brittle. Just A Cup had Garlic Apple Jelly and Roasted Onion-Garlic Marmalade. 6ix Triangles served Caramelized Garlic French Toast with Cinnamon Swirl. Jamie Kennedy Kitchen served fries with garlic aioli and toasted garlic chips.

In what may be one of the coolest garlic combos of the festival, Rachel’s Gourmet Gone Wild served Ostrich Slider topped with a Garlic Aioli, Beer, Ginger, & Garlic Braised Elk Slider, Beet Burger for the vegetarian and Venison Chili Nachos.

4. Garlic Experts

The speakers corner had several experts on garlic. Soil biologist Sarah Hargreaves spoke about soil biodiversity, while farmer David Cohlmyer and Chef Justin Actinolite presented a tasting presentation to illustrate the relation between the taste of food and the soil it’s grown in. Farmer and author Zach Loeks shared his experience and insight on growing garlic.

5. Garlic History with a First Nations perspective

First Nation Speaker, Chef Rich Francis shared some of what he has learned in his talk at the Toronto Garlic Festival Speakers’ Corner. Johl Ringuette spoke about wild garlic from the point of view of First Nations and European Explorers. He later discussed the use of domesticated and wild garlic by First Nations in 18th and 19th century Canada and how it influenced and was influenced by European settlers.


Date: September 17, 2017
Location: Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St, Toronto
Price: $5

Rod has previously worked for and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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