My husband and I recently enjoyed a day trip to the Isle of Wight. While waiting for the ferry we enjoyed looking through the brochures on offer to plan our day. Soon we were on a gastronomic adventure.
Our first stop was the famous Garlic Farm at Newchurch, writes Uckfield News Fabulous Food writer Beverley Butler. Not only can you purchase garlic plants, garlic bulbs, sauces, condiments and eat in their restaurant, but you can even buy garlic beer and garlic fudge!
I like the flavour of garlic, but not too strong. Therefore I always make my own garlic butter using finely diced smoked garlic (or use a garlic crusher), good quality French slightly salted butter and a pinch of dried mixed herbs (or even finely chopped fresh herbs of your choice) and freshly ground black pepper.
All the ingredients are mixed together and spread on part-baked bread then baked until the bread is cooked. I like to make a larger quantity and place the excess on a sheet of cling film, roll up and twist the ends of the film in opposite directions to form a tight sausage shaped roll. I then place this in the fridge until firm, cut into 1cm discs and place on a tray and open freeze.
By freezing individually the pieces can be stored in a container and used when required.
By adding extra ingredients such as chilli flakes, or grated lemon rind, grated ginger or chopped coriander for example, discs of flavoured butter can be used on jacket or new potatoes, steaks, or even vegetables.
By using a slice of flavoured butter from the freezer you are less tempted to use too much as it melts on your hot cooked food.
I also learned some new facts about garlic while in the Isle of Wight. Louis Pasteur observed garlic’s antibacterial activity and it was used as an antiseptic during World War One. Garlic can be used as a mosquito repellent and gardener’s can use crushed garlic in water to combat aphids, whitefly, spiders and other pests.
I had no idea that the sticky juice within garlic cloves can be used as an adhesive in mending glass and china.
Our journey continued. We visited Godshill and discovered a thatched shop called Chocolate Island. What a treat. The best before date on the back of the chocolate purchased was the 31st August 2013. No problem. I don’t think it will last long enough to use as an ingredient in a recipe!
We purchased blue cheese from the Isle of Wight Cheese Company that I will add to a cauliflower cheese during the week and a hard-pressed cheese made with unpasteurized Guernsey cows’ milk from Sandown delightfully named Gallybagger.
This is delicious diced and added to a mixed salad with avocado, oak roasted sun dried tomatoes from The Tomato Stall (made from Isle of Wight tomatoes), hot crispy fried bacon and pine nuts quickly fried in a dry pan.
All drizzled with extra virgin rapeseed oil, grown, cold pressed and bottled on the island and named Oil of Wight.
To wash down all this lovely produce from the small island, not garlic beer but ginger beer bought from the Godshill Cider Company. This reminded me of an easy Jamie Oliver recipe I keep meaning to try.
Jamie Oliver’s ginger beer recipe
140g fresh ginger
4 tablespoons muscovado sugar
1 litre soda water/ sparkling water (or use bitter lemon and omit the lemons)
Few sprigs of mint
Grate the ginger with the skin on into a bowl. Add the sugar. Remove the rind from the lemons with a vegetable peeler; add to the bowl with the juice of the lemons. Pour in the water. Allow to sit for 10 mins. Add more sugar if too sour, or more lemon juice if too sweet. Pass through a sieve into a large jug with plenty of ice and some sprigs of mint.
Our delightful day visit in the sunshine will last a lot longer thanks to our purchases. When we have consumed them all, we may just have to return and re-stock. What a shame!