It’s the end of a long day here in Montreal, but the prospect of a weekend at the Manse perks a person up – despite the long nighttime drive that it’ll take to get there on Friday after work, and the fact that most of my weekend should by rights be spent raking leaves from the lawn. But anyway, let’s not think about that. Let’s talk (briefly) about garlic.
I gather the undisputed garlic queen of Hastings County is Elly Blanchard of Railway Creek Farms in Cooper, the tiny hamlet not far from Queensborough where one of the three United Churches on the Queensborough Pastoral Charge used to be back in the early 1960s when my family was first at the Manse. If I saw correctly the last time Raymond and I passed through Cooper, Railway Creek Farm is the place where Rex and Phyllis Rollins, a wonderful couple and stalwarts of the Cooper church (and later, after it closed, St. Andrew’s in Queensborough) used to live. I have happy memories of enjoying Sunday dinners at Rex and Phyllis’s handsome brick home.
Raymond and I met Elly at the Madoc Fair, where she had a stand selling more kinds of garlic than I knew existed. We bought a sampling, some milder and some stronger, and Raymond labelled them all so we’d know what was what. Elly really has the garlic thing figured out, and will tell you just what variety you should use for various dishes. It’s really impressive, and really cool.
I have included garlic in the list of things I would like to grow when we eventually have a garden at the Manse. But in the meantime (and that may be a longish meantime) it’s clear that our garlic is generally going to come from Railway Creek Farms.
It makes me smile to think about garlic coming from Cooper. Back when I was a kid in those parts, I think garlic was, if not unheard-of, pretty rare. My mum used to have rarely-used bottles of McCormick’s garlic salt and garlic powder in the cupboard along with the other “spices.” But real fresh garlic? Not so much. Not at the Manse, ever. And not, I think, anywhere else much in the general vicinity, including Cooper.
So I think it’s just dandy that garlic – real garlic – is now a big product in Cooper. It’s culinary poetic justice.