Gary Moran’s favourite recipe is a simple one: stuff garlic cloves into a prime rib roast and cook it slowly.
“You let all that flavour suck into the meat,” he says. “It’s not too fancy.”
It’s a solid, simple, meat-and-potatoes kind of meal.
Or, as Moran puts it, meat-and-potatoes-and-garlic.
Gary Moran and his wife are the owners and operators of Fantasy Farms—the brains behind Reaper’s Haunted Attraction, the Yard Garden and Renovation Show, A Christmas to Remember—and, last but not least, the annual Chilliwack Garlic and Rockabilly Festival, which hits the farm on Sept. 13 and 14.
It’s no surprise when Moran says there’s never a shortage of garlic in their house.
After all, the family has more than a few garlic-related projects on the go—including a garlic-themed cookbook and a master garlic showdown, in which local chefs compete to create the tastiest garlicky meal.
More surprising is learning that they’ve only been on their garlic kick for a couple of years.
Moran was inspired to start growing garlic after visiting a garlic festival in California.
There were a lot of garlic growers in B.C., he reasoned—why not host a garlic festival in Chilliwack?
But when he started researching, he realized two things: there were fewer garlic farms than he realized, and he could easily become one of them.
With a lot of help from YouTube and Google, Moran turned into a garlic grower in no time—and soon enough organized the Annual Chilliwack Garlic Festival to bring all of B.C.’s growers together.
It’s been a success from year one, he says. Something about the community in Chilliwack—perhaps Ukrainian and Mennonite roots—is always eager for a batch of the fresh and pungent veggie.
This year they have eight different growers from around the province bringing their wares to the fest—including three from Chilliwack.
And for those not convinced that garlic alone can a festival make, there’s more than vegetables to fill up the day. The festival also boasts a bouncy castle, artisans and other farm vendors, food trucks, and a healthy dose of live music—rockabilly, to be exact—to keep everything toe-tapping along.
“You can’t have a festival without music—and I think rockabilly really lends itself to the upbeat tempo of the festival,” Moran says with a grin.
They have ten bands to perform on the festival’s two stages, about half of which are from Chilliwack and the surrounding Fraser Valley. The other bands are heading in from Vancouver, keeping the festival neatly wrapped up in a B.C. theme.
“Part of our mandate is to support as much local as we can—to give local artists, and farmers, a start,” Moran says.
At the end of the day, it’s the local garlic and growers that are the star of the show.
The public, Moran says, often has no idea what good garlic can taste like.
“Just off the top of my head, I can name 18 or 20 different kinds of garlic,” he says. “We get people coming here, saying, ‘My God—I didn’t know garlic could taste so good.’”
He goes on to list ways to eat the parts of garlic—the top of the plant can be frozen and used for seasoning soups, like a bay leaf. Eating young, green garlic results in more of an oniony sort of taste. The soft top of garlic can be chopped and eaten like chives.
Or, as Moran prefers, you can stuff whole cloves into a roast and let it do its magic.
>The Chilliwack Garlic and Rockabilly Festival takes place at Fantasy Farms at 9423 Gibson Rd. in Chilliwack Sept. 13 and 14. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and children, and family passes are availablefor $24. Visit their website at www.chilliwackgarlicfestival.ca for more information or to download a $1 coupon towards the price of the ticket.