Purple Haze garlic has rich western Colo. history
One of the world’s favorite flavors is being harvested as I write this. Technically a vegetable — kin to the onion, leek and shallot — garlic is native to central Asia. China, still, is by far the largest producer in the world.
Through the centuries the “stinking rose” has been hailed as a curative, an aphrodisiac and just plain intoxicating.
One of the coveted garlics grown in western Colorado sprouts from the ground on Redlands Mesa, a variety named Purple Haze named for its distinctive lilac hue. The farm is on a high plateau 15 minutes from downtown Hotchkiss.
The heirloom Rocambole with a large, easy-to-peel clove is grown naturally without chemicals or synthetic fertilizers at the Purple Haze Garlic Farm. The herb has a robust, come-hither smell and flavor, especially compared to the relatively bland bulbs sold commercially in grocery stores. It’s ideal for roasting because it carmelizes so well.
Sven Edstrom and Elsie Winne took over the farm in 2004 from a family friend who had been growing the organic crop since 1986. Its roots are deep in the North Fork Valley, traced to Archie Ware, a settler who started the purple tradition in the 1930s. Before it acquired the groovy Jimi Hendrix name, it was known in the area as Archie’s garlic.
Because Purple Haze Garlic is sold by order online and marketed through a newsletter, the pungent herb has a national following. While Gilroy, Calif. — self-proclaimed garlic capital of the world — may have gained fame with their yearly garlic festival, Purple Haze has cache in culinary circles.
The garlic is harvested in late July and ready to roast by early September. Although the farm has been expanded over the years, growers Edstrom and Winne usually sell out.
The garlic is sold in half-pound and one-pound mesh sacks and the popular 15-bulb decorative braid, which, depending on the size of the braid, can weigh up to 3 pounds.
ALL THE FIXINGS: I prefer not to think about Labor Day, because it means summer is waning, but Gateway Canyons Resort is planning a day of barbecue and blues to mark the holiday. Tickets are $25 at the gate or $20 in advance at any City Market store.
Chef James Warnock is planning a tableau of All-American favorites including 24-hour roasted whole pigs, chicken, pulled pork, summer salads, sweet corn, ice cream and watermelon.
You’ll be entertained by Denver’s own Hazel Miller Band, fireworks and an artisan crafts and arts show.
BURGERS FOR THE BOYS: Smashburger on First Street and Grand Avenue is raising money Saturday, Aug. 20, for the fifth and final Western Slope Honor Flight from 10 a.m. to close.
A portion of all proceeds will help 95 World War II veterans travel in September to Washington D.C., to see the memorials built in their honor.
STUBBING FOR JAVA: Anyone who attends a Colorado Mesa University sporting event can take their ticket stub to either Main Street Bagels locations and get a free coffee, espresso or soda. If the Mavs win the game, you can play the cashier in a game of rock/paper/scissors for a free cookie. Between that, and the Rockies/Taco Bell deal, a starving student might be able to survive another semester.
QUOTE: Anything not benefiting the addition of chocolate will probably benefit from the addition of garlic. — Proverb