One of my favorite photos from my trip to Rome last spring was this one from the Campo dei Fiori market. I was really happy that upon arriving back in California from France shortly after, Raquel gifted me a beautiful braided garlic similar to these, which I used up in a few months for early summer pesto, roasted garlic and in other meals~
Hard to believe a whole year has gone by, but the annual visit by Ben and his big red school bus says that here, garlic season is officially on. Ben lives in Idaho with his family, but they also farm a property in Baja. There, with the warmer weather, they are able to plant the garlic just a little earlier in the late fall than we can plant in California, and then return in the spring for two months to harvest and braid it themselves. While we are still enjoying fresh “green” garlic here, Ben & family arrive with mature garlic braided by his family~
These beautiful tresses d’ail are made with the violet garlic that I love so much, and perfect in any Mediterranean dish, be it Provencal, Spanish or Italian. I can’t believe here in California there is so much white garlic imported from China (please read the labels!), and of course Gilroy CA is also called the garlic capital of the world, though it seems much of that goes into commercial production for food products. Here in Southern California my favorite garlic grower is Phil from Sage Mountain, but that won’t be available until later in the summer and Phil tells me that braiding it like this is pretty time consuming~
Ben and his family are making their way back to Idaho, selling garlic braids all along the way at various markets, and San Diego is a short two-day stop, yesterday and Encinitas and Sunday at Rancho Santa Fe~
The heads are all good sized, have peak flavor for the next four-six months, and with ten pieces a braid is $6~
Slightly longer 23” braids, fifteen head...$8-10 range~
And the showstopper, 25 heads for $13-15…Louie the Baker bought ten braids (for roasted garlic bread) and the rest went to a small deli owner who sells at the market and will use them for display in his shop~
These are going to be included in an early summer giveaway I am assembling for a blogger friend, so you will soon have the chance to win one of these braids along with a bunch of other really fantastic goodies….In the meantime I bought six braids yesterday and Sunday will be buying a lot more for cooking and gifts.
I am getting a discount from Ben as I am buying quantity…if you are interested in having me ship a braid it to you, please email me andrea at frenchbasketeer.com….yes, I know, surely you can find great garlic braids also in your area, but I like these as they come with a good small farmer story and I can have it before the rest of the dried garlic is in. Not to mention, the braid looks great in the kitchen!